Top Ten Tips to become a better public speaker
1. Know your material. It's obviously important to know what you're talking about, and it's a good idea to know more about it than you include in your presentation. Try to use humor, personal stories and conversational language too – it will help you remember what to say.
2. Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all the equipment you plan to use. Revise as necessary. Practice lots and make sure you pause and breathe. It's a good idea to practice with a timer and to allow time for the unexpected.
3. Know the audience. It helps if you can greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s much easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
4. Know the room. Try to make sure you arrive early and have time to walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone or any visual aids.
5. Relax. Easier said than done of course but the more speaking engagements you have the easier it will get. Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. ("One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.)
6. Visualise yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking and doing really well, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualise the audience clapping – this can really boost your confidence.
7. Realise that your audience want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They really are rooting for you.
8. Never apologise for any nervousness or problems – chances are the audience probably never even noticed and all you're doing is bringing more attention to it.
9. Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Try to focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.
10. Gain experience. Your presentation should represent you — as an authority and as a person. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking, so get out and speak as much as possible and it definitely will quickly get easier.
Try out a Toastmasters meeting!
My local branch of Toastmasters International (Doncaster Speakers) has helped me improve my own public speaking skills enormously, providing a safe and friendly environment to practice as well as study resources and materials to help record progress. Toastmaster meetings are extremely well structured and everyone gets the opportunity to speak at every meeting, meaning you can quickly improve your speaking skills.
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development with a 292,000 strong membership, with members improving their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 14,350 clubs in 122 countries around the world.
Toastmasters groups meet at various times - in the morning, at noon, or in the evening - in communities and corporations all over the world. No matter where you live, work or travel, you’ll likely find a group nearby.
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