Public Speaking Tips

In preparation for the Corporate Speaking Challenge we have put together some useful tips that will help you on the day.

Preparation

Although you should be prepared, you shouldn’t over prepare as your speech could come across as rigid and unnatural. Attempting to learn every single word will create stress and great nervousness if the sequence of the words you’re trying to remember goes wrong. Instead keep the focus on all your key points and naturally communicate these to your audience.

The Point

The stories, pictures and analogies make the point memorable and give it impact. Yes, the key message is important but it’s only through the story that the message can be transformed into something unique and original.

So a point needs the story to give it impact and of course a story in turn needs a point to give it meaning.

Have one key message. When we have so much to say it’s easy to make lots of points but this can make our speech confusing so it’s important to prioritise ensuring you have one clear message.

Voice

An interesting, captivating voice is vital for a speaker; it is your instrument. Great speakers will vary the pitch, tone, pace and volume of their verbal delivery.

To keep listeners interested, your voice needs to be varied throughout the speech; speakers frequently talk about the 3 ‘P’s; pitch, pace and power. If you use the same pitch throughout the speech it will become very monotonous and increasingly boring to listen to.

There is of course a 4th ‘P’: pause!  If varying the sound of your voice keeps the listener engaged, the occasional absence of sound altogether will work even better!

Your voice is your prime means of communication, so keep it alive!

Gesturing

Body language, gestures, facial expressions and movement is another way to reinforce your message.

Some speakers recommend moving around on the stage as it gives the impression of taking control, owning the room and asserting your strength, whereas standing still is more about sharing and says ‘listen to what I have to say’ rather than just ‘listen to me’.

Gestures and voice work together. For example, repetition of a specific gesture can be reflected in a sameness of intonation, therefore variety in one with usually be reflected in the other.  A speaker needs to make sure that the gestures support the voice and the voice supports the gestures.

Eye Contact

Eye contact is another vital element of public speaking; it creates engagement which is essential for creating a memorable speech.

You should make a conscious effort to embrace the whole room. This will help retain an element of a 2 way conversation which is more likely to keep everyone engaged. If you don’t look at someone their mind is likely to wander whereas making eye contact will make your audience feel involved.

Eye contact also signals confidence: generally a confident person will hold eye contact.  The more confident someone appears the more likely you are to value their opinion and therefore listen to their speech. Eye contact also transmits honesty and sincerity. And particularly at those key moments of a presentation, moments of conviction, moments of persuasion, you need to be able to lead with your eyes.

Memory

A common fear of public speaking is forgetting what you had planned to say and having a blank mind, to counteract that people make the common mistake to memorise too much.

Believe in what you are talking about, if you feel strongly about your speech and convinced of your key points, the more likely you are to be able to continue the speech without hesitation.

If you’re still prone to forgetting your speech, ensure you remember your last line or your key message. If you do then forget some of your speech you can jump to your key message, reminding yourself of your key message will likely remind you of what you had forgotten and bringing you back on to the path to your conclusion.