Are you shaking just thinking about giving your first big speech? If so, you’re not alone. Roughly 75% of people have some fear of public speaking.
Although mastering the art of public speaking can be difficult, it’s not impossible. With a few tips and tricks, you can improve your public speaking skills and become more comfortable talking in front of an audience.
Do you want to know more? Keep reading for our guide to public speaking for beginners.
Prepare Your Speech
This first point may seem obvious, but it can’t be overlooked. If you fail to prepare your speech ahead of time, you’ll likely start rambling or forget key points when speaking.
Instead, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to research and craft your speech.
Don’t forget to think about your audience, and make sure your speech will appeal to them. Say you’re speaking about ocean life. Would your audience appreciate some interesting facts about pearls or a good joke about clams more?
You’ll also want to think about your tone and emphasis. While you may think a speech that’s passionate from beginning to end is best, it can actually detract from your main points. Only being passionate during important parts of your speech and remaining calm during the rest can emphasize your main point and make it “pop”.
Try practicing your speech with different tones and inflections. Make notes on the sides of your speech to remind yourself what words you want to emphasize and when you want to want to speak passionately.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Once your speech is finalized, it’s time to practice! Start by reading your speech aloud until you can recite it without looking down.
Then, you can move on to practicing your speech in front of a mirror to ensure your posture and hand movements fit well. You should also consider practicing in front of an audience (like your friends and family). Not only will this give you better practice for the big day, but your loved ones can give you advice on what worked and what didn’t.
Of course, not every audience will be as well-behaved as your loved ones. You may want to consider asking them to provide distractions, like a ringing cell phone or loud coughing, to help you practice speaking through noises.
Did you find yourself looking down at your speech when practicing? This is a common habit and a hard one to break.
While some speakers choose to keep their entire speech with them, others go with notecards or no help at all. Generally, notecards are a good medium to ensure you hit all your key points without constantly looking down at your speech or having to find your place in a huge page of text every time you want to check what’s next.
Alright, so you spent all this time writing and practicing your speech. You finally know it word-for-word. Unfortunately, there is a chance that you’ll have to change it on the spot.
Even the best speeches can flop when they’re not catered towards the right audience. During your speech, look for nonverbal cues from the audience. If you notice people checking their phone, shaking their head, looking confused, or furrowing their brows, you’ll need to consider changing something.
This may be as simple as cutting jokes because your audience doesn’t follow your sense of humor or as complicated as rewording how you broach sensitive or controversial topics.
For this reason, it’s important that you fully understand the content of your speech. This will allow you to make adjustments on the fly to hopefully gain your audience’s support.
Get Some Help
Does all this sound a bit overwhelming right about now? If you’re nervous about your speech or your speaking skills, you may want to consider getting some help.
Speaking coaches and workshops are a great way to get expert advice and practice your speech in front of professionals. This website offers services on everything from speech writing and PowerPoint design to speaking coaches, so you can master the art of public speaking.
Do an Equipment Check
Sometimes creating a top-notch speech and practicing your speaking skills are only half the battle. Do you also need to provide a visual aid or handle your own equipment?
The last thing you want is to get on stage and find that your microphone isn’t working or your PowerPoint won’t load. Make sure you arrive with plenty of time to check your equipment and potentially resolve any problems. You’ll also want to have backups of everything ready, just in case.
Make Eye Contact
Making eye contact is one of the oldest and most repeated pieces of advice for public speaking. And there’s a good reason why.
You want your audience to view you as confident and knowledgeable. If you’re constantly looking down at your speech, it can appear like you don’t really know what you’re talking about.
On the flip side, making eye contact helps you appear confident and prepared. It also helps you connect with your audience, so they feel like you’re talking directly to them. Make sure you only look down at your note cards when needed and make eye contact with as many people as you can, including those in the back rows.
Speak Slowly and Clearly
Many people tend to talk faster when they’re nervous. If you haven’t spoken in public before and only practiced in front of loved ones, you may not even know this is something to look out for.
If you notice yourself running out of breath or fumbling your words, you’re likely speaking too fast. Another good indicator is if you’re doing a little too good on time. Just take a deep breath and focus on speaking clearly and at a normal pace.
How to Master the Art of Public Speaking
Don’t let yourself give your first big speech without being prepared. From practicing in front of an audience to doing an equipment check, there are a few steps you need to take to master the art of public speaking and ensure your speech is a success.
Of course, you’ll also need the perfect outfit to look professional and trustworthy on stage. Check out these tips to avoid a potential wardrobe malfunction.