There are plenty of situations where you may be asked to present in front of a group and strong public speaking skills can help you advance your career and create better opportunities. Whether you are asked to present at a conference, you have to give a speech after receiving an award, or you have to pitch a new product to a client, knowing how to speak in front of a group can enhance your reputation. Developing your public speaking skills can help you become more confident and can even help you succeed in all areas of your life. Below are nine public speaking tips that can help you feel more comfortable in front of an audience and learn to speak with confidence.
1. Practice and Prepare
It’s normal for people to feel nervous about speaking in front of a group but the best way to tackle your nerves is through practice and preparation. Practicing will help you overcome the nervousness and anxiety associated with public speaking. You can practice speaking in front of family, friends, and colleagues and invite them to share helpful feedback. You can also volunteer to speak at team meetings and other small gatherings so you can get more practice.
2. Organize Your Material
It’s important to learn how to organize your material prior to speaking. Start by focusing on one core message and go from there. Outline what you want to say rather than write it out word-for-word. This makes for more natural language when you present. Organizing and outlining your presentation ahead of time helps you become more confident with your material, thus making you appear more comfortable when you speak.
3. Pay Attention to Body Language
You communicate nearly 70% of the time using your body language alone. Though you may be unaware, your body language gives your audience subtle clues about you such as whether or not you are nervous, excited, confident, or comfortable. Therefore, become aware of your body language: stand up straight, smile, make eye contact, and move with purpose. Strong body language exudes confidence.
4. Know Your Audience
Before you prepare your content, think about your audience and focus on what they want to get out of your presentation. Consider their age, demographics, profession, and level of seniority in order to craft a presentation that is custom to meet their needs. The more you know about your audience, the better equipped you will be to determine your choice of words, level of information, and overall message.
5. Tell Stories
Stories are a powerful form of communication and they are a great way to connect with audiences. Stories feel personal because that’s how we relate to the world around us. A good narrative can help you tap into your listeners’ emotions in a way that is memorable and meaningful to them.
6. Incorporate Visuals
Visual aids are important in presentations because they help you explain things more clearly. It makes things easier for both the speaker and the learner. Visual aids allow you to vary the mediums in your presentation, which helps you stay on track and your audience stay interested.
7. Practice Deep Breathing
Most people are extremely nervous and anxious before a big presentation. This can cause a number of reactions to the body including sweaty palms, a racing heart, difficulty breathing, and a quivering voice. One of the best ways to relax before speaking is to practice deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing allows oxygen to flow throughout the body, decreasing your body’s fight or flight response. This can help you relieve some of your anxiety so you can speak with confidence.
8. Be Yourself
No one likes a presenter who appears stiff and robotic. If your presentation feels forced, the audience will not connect with you. Therefore, just focus on being yourself. Let your personality shine through and don’t be afraid to make a mistake. In the end, your audience will appreciate your authenticity and find you to be more relatable.
9. Think Positively
There’s something to be said about the power of positivity. Positive thinking can make a huge difference in your ability to speak well in front of others. If you believe in yourself, others will believe in you too. Use affirmations and positive visualization to raise your confidence. Doing so will increase the chances that you will actually achieve what you believe.