For employees in a variety of industries and jobs, you will have to be able to engage in public speaking in a way that connects with an audience while conveying a precise message as succinctly as possible. Whether it is to speak about your product or present your business’ objectives at a meeting or seminar, it is an inevitable part of professional life. For many people this can lead to panicky feelings of performance anxiety and fear. These feeling may stem largely from a lack of confidence in one’s ability to communicate key messages effectively. But public speaking is not an inborn ability and takes several prerequisites to being to master it.
Consider the following tips when preparing yourself to be the best public speaker you can be:
Know Your Audience
A good and practiced speaker knows who is in the audience and tailors his or her message directly to them. Speakers should alter their speech so it resonates with their audience, and is meaningful and relevant to them. Public speaking offers you the opportunity to get immediate feedback and see whether people are responding to your message. Allowing for a Q&A session immediately after speaking also gives a speaker the chance to interact with the audience and be become more “real.”
Love Your Topic
It is generally easier to speak in front of an audience if you are talking about a subject about which you are passionate. Also, when we talk about subjects we care about, we tend to speak from the heart and have an easier time finding the words to express our thoughts. Audiences enjoy that because they can better relate to the message and the speaker (read: you). You might mispronounce a word or make a minor mistake, but the audience is willing to overlook it. Enthusiasm is contagious and can work to encourage us in our public speaking when we see that quality in others.
Reveal Something Personal
Share something personal with your audience, even if it is somewhat embarrassing. When you show your human side, it allows your audience to connect with you on a personal level. You’re not just some speaking robot at the front of the room but a flawed human being. By telling a story, you make it easier for people to focus on your message, and your audience will have something to walk away with. You might also try incorporating jokes or video clips to break things up.
Acknowledge Your Audience with a Smile
Finally, public speaking is about composure. Stand tall with your hands at your side and spend a minute or two smiling at your audience. Do it even if you’re nervous and want to get it all over with. You will come off as more confident, relatable, and self-assured, even if you don’t feel like it. Don’t underestimate the importance of body language.