Proven Tips for Public-speaking and effective presentation skills
What do people fear most? Nope, it’s not ghosts or the dark. It’s public-speaking. Some people would rather jump out of a building than to speak in front of a crowd. They just freeze at the lectern.
Public-speaking need not be the death knell you imagine it to be. I would like to share some tips on effective public-speaking that I’ve gathered from my Toastmasters days. They would not turn you into a charismatic orator overnight but they would make you a more confident and effective communicator.
1. Make eye contact
Look at someone in the front, left, right, centre and back of the room. Do a sweeping glance at the whole audience from time to time too. And I mean really look them in the eye. Yes, making eye contact with your audience sitting in different parts of the room is crucial. You could really connect with your listeners, this way.
How do you make your audience register what you say better? Always state your point first followed by elaboration before re-iterating your point for emphasis – P.E.P.
3. Appeal to the Heart, not the mind
Yes, this applies even to fact-based presentations. Don’t just dish out the numbers, the statistics and the facts. The truth is; compelling case studies, persuasive storytelling and stories with a human angle; speaks to the audience and unlocks the key to their heart. In short, arouse their emotions.
Show how it relates to them. If your audience can identify with what you are saying, chances are they would more likely be convinced.
Honest emotions shows – if you don’t believe in what you are saying, chances are your audience won’t either. You need to put in emotional investment before you can convince your audience.
Be sincere and earnest – speak about something that you feel strongly about.
5. Vocal Variety
You don’t want to put your audience to sleep, don’t you? Do not drone on in a monotone. Vary your vocal variety – change the tone, volume, speed and pitch of your voice.
Specifically, this is how to make it work for you:
- Tone – As we know, the same sentence expressed in different tones could convey vastly different meanings. Do you wish to show anger, disappointment, sarcasm, happiness or excitement?
- Volume – Speak louder when you wish to emphasize something or for dramatic effect. Drop your voice to a whisper when you wish to sound secretive.
- Speed – Speak faster to convey different emotions like excitement; speak slower to build up climax. Don’t forget the power of dramatic pauses. Silence is a powerful tool. Stressing on different words conveys different shades of meanings.
- Pitch – High pitch generally denotes excitement or anger while a lower pitch indicates sadness or poignancy.
These are magical keys that unlock the door to an impactful speech.
6. Body Language
Use gestures to help your audience understand you better but careful not to let them distract from your speech. Be natural, do not exaggerate. Make your gesture just large enough to be seen by everyone in your audience but not draw attention to itself.
So when do you use gestures?
- To express size, weight, shape, direction, location – These physical characteristics call for the shaping of hands or pointing.
- To emphasize importance or urgency – Punch your fist into open air to punctuate your point. You could also pounce on the lectern (but done with care so as not to seem affected)
- To show comparison and contrast – Move both your hands in unison to show similarities, move them in opposition to show differences.
7. Mind Your Language
Use simple words, bombastic words put people off. Leave out jargons – they only serve to alienate your audience. Run through your speech to ensure that it is free from grammatical errors – they are not only jarring on the ears but distract from your message.
Keep these few tips in mind and see the difference it makes, the next time you’re called upon to speak. Be sure to nail that presentation in front of your boss too!
Note: First published on buzzle.com on : 19 July 2008.