Jun 1, 2009

Public Speaking Tips

Public speaking can really hurt, but a disinterested audience will make it even worse. Boring topics, monotonous tones, and a seemingly endless stream of words can put people to sleep quicker than a blunt blow to the head. Make sure you aren’t a public speaking offender by following a few simple tips.

In a speech, there are two very important considerations. The first is the audience. How big of an audience will you speak too? What kind of people are they? What are you trying to tell them? Remember that everything you say can be construed differently depending on things like your audience’s background, beliefs, and age. Create a speech for those who will hear it. The second very important consideration is the time you're allotted to speak. How will you fit in everything you want to tell them without going on too long (or, possibly, not long enough)? How will each piece of the speech flow together to create one cohesive message?

These are all things you should work out as you practice your speech. Tailor the tone and word choice to your audience, and get a feel for how it flows. Connecting each piece of information is of the utmost importance. A speech that flows well will keep an audience’s attention, while one that does not will confuse and discourage other from listening. Finally, practice the speech aloud, timing yourself as you go. Good timing and practice will allow you to engage the audience with eye contact and hand gestures. People are more likely to pay attention if they feel like you are talking to them and not reading off a script.

Once you have the words down, consider infusing your speech with some multimedia. Double-check the compatibility of the venue at which you will be speaking and plan accordingly. Just about every speech can benefit from the addition of a slideshow, song, or short movie. One cool idea is to provide pre-burned CD’s to your audience (if it is small enough and laptop-equipped) containing some pictures that illustrate your words. The audience can open these as you direct or at their leisure, and will engage them in a fashion that is more effective then throwing the same pictures on a large screen at the front of the room. This way, the audience will feel like they are part of the speech as opposed to merely observers of it.

Once you are comfortable, get up on the stage and let it go! Try to speak as organically and normal as possible, even though you may have practiced each word a hundred times. Be wary of speaking too quickly- presenters will often speed up their speech if they are nervous. Before you know it, you’ll be done and the audience will be cheering!

1 comment:

Jonathan Lopez said...

A lot of public speaking comes down to confidence. If you act and sound like you know what you are talking about (i.e., you speak clearly and concisely) people are more apt to believe you and take you seriously.