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13 Tips on Public Speaking

1. Are you opening with a bang?

“You cannot make a second first impression” is a saying to live by, especially in business. As a speaker the first impression the audience has of you is your appearance, of course. And it is also the opening of your presentation. Do not start with excuses: “Sorry I did not have….” Within 30 seconds or less your listeners will make up their minds, whether they will gain something by listening to you or not. Give them something to ponder right from the beginning.

2. Do you conclude with purpose or just stop?

Your audience will remember the most what you said last and what you said first. Make sure that what they remember is valuable to them and therefore makes them remember you. Most tips on public speaking insist: Never end with questions and answer session. You do not want to risk your audience pondering a controversial remark. Meticulously craft a conclusion that is memorable, highlighting again your main points or the reason for your presentation. Be sure that timing allows you to present your memorized ending.

3. How much material are you presenting?

Craig Valentine says: Squeezing your information in squeezes your audience out. There are only so many points a person can contemplate and understand within a certain time frame. The notion that you want to give them as much material as possible is counterproductive. Give them as many ideas as they can understand, digest and incorporate into their own lives. This is what sets the bench mark for an engaging presentation.

4. Are you clear on your outcome?

What do you want to achieve with your presentation? Every presentation is ‘selling’ something. Maybe you want your audience to agree on your specific proposal. Mostly though, you want them to accept your recommendations, your ideas. You have solutions that will help them improve their situation. How will you make sure that they understand and accept your proposition? If you are not clear, they will go home and forget you and your suggestions. Plan to be unforgettable.

5. Want to be remembered?

Beginning speakers tend to present lots of information, research, ideas and opinions in a theoretical mode. While as a speaker you need to be an expert in your field of interest, you must be able to present all your findings in an easy digestible method, so that your audience can remember them. Your experiences with what you preach are what will convince your audience. Tell it in story form, so that your audience can understand and apply your ideas.

6. Are your stories clear?

To tell effective stories is an art all of its own. The better you master this skill, the more entertaining, memorable and effective your speeches will be. Learn and practice storytelling.This is one of the best tips on public speaking you can get. Once you ‘go it’ you will never look back.

7. Are you using your audience s language?

Watch your vocabulary very carefully. Use colorful and vivid words that paint thought evoking pictures in your audience s mind. Know who your audience is and what they know, don t know about your topic and your industry before you even start preparing. Great speakers avoid industry specific jargon that only insiders understand and leave part of the audience feeling overlooked. Your words connect to their hearts and minds; don’t lose them during your trip.

8. Do you read your Power Point slides?

Don t! Because if do, you will be talking to the screen a lot. This is a very bad habit, loose it! Your audience is very capable of reading themselves. And they do it faster than you will. Avoid confronting your audience with a dilemma: Should they read the slide you just presented them with or should they listen to you? The fewer words on your slides the better. Power Point is not the star of the show, YOU and your content are. Be clear!

9. So what exactly are visual aids like Power Point for?

You should use them to enhance understanding. Pictures tell a thousand words if they are good ones. Writing in sentences is not a visual aid. Research shows that people read the words and listen to their inner voice, so it s actually audio. Pictures that evoke emotions will draw your audience in. Use graphics as bold pictures with very few bold numbers or a word that says it all!

10. Do you listen to the reaction of your audience?

They want to be heard too. The speaking platform has changed drastically. Today, most speakers do not want to stand behind lecterns anymore. They want to connect with their audiences on a more personal level. They want to give the audience a chance to answer to questions and statements. They want the audience to laugh, contemplate and even cry. Today, speaking is a journey; the speaker leads and the audience benefits from an exciting ride.

11. Are you afraid of silence?

If you do not pause, how can you listen? Many presenters are afraid of the silence in the room. Don t! A pause at the right time helps drive home a thought. Silence to let the audience think about their situation about solutions will do wonders for you and your presentation. A self confident skillful speaker has practiced his timing. He knows exactly when to speak and when to be silent for the outmost effect.

12. A presentation is a show, how is your show?

Your body is a visual aid, use it properly! Your appearance, your stance, your posture will tell a lot about you, your attitude and your confidence level. During your presentation your body will either help enhance understanding or muddle it. Practice using facial expressions, your limbs and even the stage. Throughout most of your speech you are encouraged to smile and be energetic. During serious contemplation and stories though, make sure your body and voice convey the correct emotions.

13. Are you suffering from stage fright?

Preparation is the best medicine to reduce speaking anxiety. Every artist and speaker needs to have little jitters before the show to get the adrenalin going. If you are prepared well, once you have started, you will be calm and in the flow. Well prepared means: you know exactly what to say when. You have written your speech and practiced the delivery of it until you speak naturally from your heart, not from your head.

I hope that these tips on public speaking will help you as much as they help me!

Our thanks to Monika Sugiarto for the contribution of this article.