Public Speaking Tips

Preparation, preparation, preparation

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” -Benjamin Franklin

Good preparation is half of success. Know your topic well and carefully select the information you want to share. Human capacity for information is limited so when it comes to public speaking more is NOT better.

Make sure you choose your opening line smartly – the first moments of your speech are when you get the audience’s attention. Or you don’t. Depending on the occasion you may begin with an intriguing question, an interesting and maybe not so well-known fact or even a joke.

Well-organized, smooth structure

Every presentation or speech should have a beginning, a body and an end. Make sure you choose your opening line smartly – the first moments of your speech are when you get the audience’s attention. Or you don’t. Going forward, try to make your presentation feel like a journey and not a bunch of randomly picked facts and statements. Finally, take care the end doesn’t come as a surprise. It’s hard to say what is worse – seeing “Thank you” on a PowerPoint slide when no one expects it or never-ending end, when speaker announces the closing and then keeps on talking.

Coping with nerves

Many people are afraid of public speaking, and a fear of failure is often at the root of this. Overwhelmed by our anxiety, people deliver some not so impressive presentations. Try to force yourself to think about the information you are about to present and focus on your audience instead of yourself and all that nightmare scenarios that are just waiting to happen. Relaxing exercises such as deep breathing right before the speech may also be helpful. However, there is no recipe that works for everyone. Thus, in our courses we work with participants individually in finding their way to conquer the fear.

Be aware of your body language

Knowing the body language signals and being aware of your own posture and movements are some of the most important things when it comes to public speaking. Remember, only a small percent of communication actually relies on words and a good part of the rest is body language. No matter how well you speak, if your body is sending a message of anxiety, fear and embarrassment, not much of the intended information will reach the audience.

Get experience

Public speaking is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. No matter how awkward it feels, anyone who wants to improve public speaking skills should use every opportunity to practice. If you are about to give a presentation at your job or university, try it few times in front of some friends, family or even just yourself in front of the mirror. Also, social occasions such as weddings or birthdays can be a great opportunity to say a few words to a group of people.

For more public speaking tips, visit my blog.

Body language photography by: Radivoj Hadzic