Improving Your Public Speaking Skills

Heights? That’s fine. Flying? No problem. Speaking in public? Yikes! Just the thought of speaking in public – which is often described as one of the biggest (and most common) fears – can cause the palms of your hands to sweat. But there are many ways to deal with this anxiety and learn to deliver a memorable speech.

In the first part of this series, Mastering the Basics of Communication, I shared some tips for improving your communication skills. In the second part, I explored how I applied these strategies as you interacted with colleagues and supervisors at work. In the third and final part of this series, I give you tips on public speaking that will help reduce your anxiety, eliminate myths, and improve your performance.

Here are My Ten Steps to Public Speaking:

1. FEAR is common. GET READY AND GET READY!
Everyone feels the body’s response to heartbeat and trembling hands. Do not mix these feelings with the idea that you will do wrong or make a fool of yourself. Some sensors are fine. An adrenaline rush that makes you sweat and makes you alert and ready to give your best performance.

The best way to deal with anxiety is to prepare, prepare, and prepare. Take time to read your notes several times. When you are comfortable with things, get used to it – a lot. Voteotape yourself, or find a friend who will analyze your performance.

2. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. YOUR SPEECH IS FREE ABOUT THEM, NOT YOU.
Before you start making your message, consider who the message is. Learn as much about your audience as possible. This will help you determine the words you choose, the level of knowledge, the organizational pattern, and the motivating statement.

3. PLAN YOUR THINGS VERY HARD TO WORK TO ACHIEVE YOUR PURPOSE.
Create a framework for your speech. Write the title, general purpose, purpose, middle idea, and main points. Be sure to grab the attention of the audience for the first 30 seconds.

4. LOOK FOR THE ANSWER AND PRACTICE IT.
Keep the focus on the audience. Rate their response, adjust your message, and stay flexible. Delivering a canned speech will ensure that you lose the focus or confuse even the most dedicated audience.

5. ALLOW YOUR PERSONALITY TO BE OVERWHELMED.
Be yourself, don’t be a talking head — on any kind of communication. You will develop better credibility if your personality is bright, and your audience will trust what you say if they can see you as a real person.

6. USE Laughter, TELL STORIES, USE EFFECTIVE LANGUAGE.
Inject a funny anecdote into your presentation, and it will surely catch your audience. Audiences generally prefer a personal touch to a talk. The story can give you that.

7. Don’t read unless you have to. WORK FROM BEAUTY.
Reading from a script or slide breaks human communication. By keeping your focus on the audience, you are keeping your focus on yourself and your message. A short frame can work to speed up your memory and keep you working.

8. USE YOUR VOICE AND YOUR HANDS BY WORKING. OMIT GREAT DAYS.
Oral communication carries most of the message. Good delivery does not call for personal attention, but rather conveys the ideas of the speaker clearly and without interruption.

9. LOOK CAREFULLY AT THE BEGINNING, THEN CLOSE AT THE END OF THE VIEW.
Are you excited to hear a talk that starts with “Today I’ll talk to you in X”? Most people do not. Instead, use a shocking figure, an exciting anecdote, or a short quotation. Conclude your talk with a summary and a strong statement that your audience will definitely remember.

10. USE AIDS WISELY.
Too many can break direct contact with the audience, so use them sparingly. They should improve or clarify your content, or capture and retain the attention of your audience.

Exercise is not perfect
Good communication is not perfect, and no one is perfect. However, putting in the necessary time to prepare will help you to deliver a better talk. You may not be able to fully control your senses, but you can learn to control your emotions.