Public speaking is an important skill for leadership development. Successful CEOs and business people are good at communicating their vision and ideas to their customers, employees, business associates and shareholders. Several researches also point out that the employees with great communication skills and public speaking skills are more successful in their careers.
Today top leaders are also the spokesmen to their businesses. Public speaking is a great skill to promote your product or service. It is a skill that will persuade an audience, motivate a workforce and a tool to convince business associates and customers. Here I would like to share with you few speaking tips that will improve your public speaking skills.
# Start with a bang
People will not pay attention to the usual stuff. To gain attention, we need to interrupt that pattern. Begin with a statement that will grab the audience attention. Newspaper articles begin with a punching headline. News broadcasts begin with a teaser. Your job at the beginning of a talk is to capture attention and convince your audience with their interest to listen. Remember all’s well that begins well.
You can also begin with a question and your speech can be tailored as an answer to that question. Or you could present the problem that gets you the audience attention. Don’t beat around the bush, come straight to the point and construct the speech around one big idea.
# Connect with your audience
Make sure what you are going to say is meeting the goals and expectations of your audience; it could also be done by solving their problems and concerns. The speech must be about them, their needs, their pains and their well-being. Always speak with conviction and authority, just as to remind the audience that you know what you are talking about. Instead of theorizing your speech, be practical about it and take a common sense approach. Also confessing something personal about yourself can make the audience feel connected with you.
# Be a storyteller.
Facts tell, but stories sell. Story telling is a great tool to get into your topic. Use anecdotes and personal experiences to build your story. When speaking, your objective should be to give the audience a gift of something that you have learned. If you conceptualize your talk that way, you can come closer to being as relaxed and you can communicate your messages passionately. But make sure your stories are not dragging or boring. The attention span of listeners is short. If there is nothing interesting to tell, then don’t talk at all. Always keep your style conversational, let it not sound monologue but be more like a dialogue to get your audience involved.
# Keep the momentum
Make sure that every new bit of information you provide builds on what came before. Each idea should lead to another until you are able to present the whole idea in full. Overall, the speech should be a mix of anecdotes, stories, insights, humor, facts and case studies and the flow is vital as the audience should be able to recall it like a story.
# Make actionable points
The purpose of a speech is to help the audience to decide or to take action on some great ideas. Speech should not only be about providing information or knowledge, but also about applying that knowledge. Convey and emphasize on the message clearly. A strong message can be repetitive in different ways, till it creates an impact on the audience.
# Make it emotional.
The speech must make the audience go through a variety of emotions from being surprised, funny, persuasive, motivated and energetic. Opening a speech with a joke or funny story is the conventional wisdom, but nothing falls flatter than inappropriate humor. Use humor where it is appropriate, but if humor is not your style, don’t force yourself. After all, a speaker is different from a comedian. The speech should not be monotonous. Your voice is your most powerful and important asset while you are on the stage. Understand that how you say your speech is as important as what you say. The biggest mistake most speakers make is a failure to slow down or use pauses. Silence and space between words allows for emphasis and lets your audience catch up with your ideas.
# Audience participation
Keeping audience interaction makes the speech more alive and participative. You could ask the audience if they agree with your points or ask them to raise hands if they can connect with your idea or experience. If the speech is longer than 45 minutes, incorporating some fun activities will keep the audience awake and attentive.
# Stick to your time
Some speakers will go on until they bore the audience to death. You should stop talking before your audience stops listening. Most of the presentations or speeches takes more time than expected. If you have an hour for presentation, be ready with content for 50 minutes. Also allot five minutes for questions and answering at the end.
# Be energetic
The whole attention of the audience is on the speaker. If the speaker is energetic and alive, the audience will be the same. The energy of the speaker infectiously rubs on to the delegates in the meeting hall. Moreover the audience will interpret everything a speaker does: they read your face, your inner rhythm, your posture, voice, and stance.They take in your nonverbal communication as much as the words you utter. Make good eye contact by moving them across the room and lock the eyes with as many people as you can. Use elaborate hand gestures to emphasize size, shape, direction, or to make a point. Your motions will feel extreme, but your audience is typically further away, so grand gestures will only keep people engaged and help them visualize your point.
Use your entire presentation space and command the stage. You can exude a lot of energy by moving around. Also remember never to put your back to your audience.
# End the speech on a high note
You begin with a bang and you also end with a bang. Your closing remarks should be the high point of your speech. As they say, the speech begins with what you are going to tell them, then you tell them and finally tell them what you already told them. The last 30 seconds of your speech must send people out energized and fulfilled. The last bits must be inspirational to help the audience take some serious action.