When you’re putting on a conference, there will be plenty of things occupying your mind. You’ll need to source the best venue, overcome logistical issues and secure the right attendance. Also nagging at the back of your mind will probably be the fact you need to get up and speak in front of a room full of people.
Taking on board just a few public speaking tips can make the difference between being a speaker that leaves a powerful, inspirational impression and one that’s forgotten instantly. Here are our top tips to ensure you’re prepped and ready for any public speaking events.
Don’t speak immediately
Ok, so you probably want to just run out there and get it over with. If you talk immediately you won’t come across calm, collected and confident to your audience so take your time. Once you get on stage take a deep breath, calm yourself, wait a couple of seconds then begin. You might feel awkward, but you’ll appear confident and in charge of the situation.
Keep to a structure
Start with a strong grabber. This can be a personal anecdote, a quote, or a shocking stat, but it needs to hook the audience and open them up to your message. You’ll want to follow with a structured middle and end making sure you live and breathe your material. Plenty of good stories work too.
Be a giver
Always remember to give value to your audience. If you stand there trying to sell them something or take for your own benefit, you’ll quickly lose them. The skill of speaking in public is all about understanding the people in front of you and learning where you can enhance their experience, rather than the other way around.
Know when to pause
You’ll get this right if you keep practising. Pausing for around three to eight seconds at key moments will really draw people into the speech.
If you’re nervous, your heart rate will increase as will the pace of your words. If you don’t control this and speak too quickly it can turn off your audience. You’ll be surprised how slowly you can go – they’ll be hanging onto your every word.
Smile and make eye contact
Making eye contact with people in the audience draws them in meaning you’ll be much more likely to keep them interested. Smiling shows that the content really matters to you. If your audience feel like you don’t care, it’s unlikely they will.
Turn nerves into excitement
Nerves will always play their part before you get up there. Turn them on their head, by using them to build excitement. Public speaking is a huge adrenaline rush and you’ll feel amazing as soon as you finish, but if you enjoy the whole experience you’ll get so much more out of it.
Visualising yourself giving a successful speech and the audience reaction will help with this.
Always be grateful
If you gave the audience some value from your speech, they’ll thank you for it. You should always return the favour and show your appreciation for any applause. Finishing with a simple thank you will maintain the bond you’ve built with those in attendance. If you don’t, you’ll leave the bitter taste in the mouth at the final hurdle.
Practice & evaluate
The more public speaking you do the better you’ll become. You’ll also get a good handle on when you get nervous, how you cope with pressure and any ticks or specific words you repeat when speaking. Once you get to know yourself as a public speaker you can work on enhancing your positives and improving your negatives.
Public speaking can be empowering for you and your audience. Enjoy it, make the most of it and you’ll be fine!