Tuning Your Delivery – Keys to Better Public Speaking
When you have an important message, you must be able to deliver it confidently and powerfully. You need to be able to read the room, hone your body language, vocal approach, movement and audience interaction to suit your message and your end goal.
For many, public speaking is a terrifying and utterly paralysing experience. The mere mention of the words ‘public speaking’ can send some into a cold sweat. For others, it can seem as natural as breathing. They are able to control the room with ease and deliver their message without so much as breaking a sweat. How do they do it? For a select few, it does come naturally. For the majority of great public speakers though, it is a skill they have honed over time with a lot of feedback, fine-tuning and of course, practice.
No matter your role or your industry, there will no doubt be a time when you have to present to a group of people. This may be for an inter-office presentation for a new project, to a large conference or seminar piece, anywhere through to a meeting for a promotion. Regardless of the occasion, or the size of the audience, the skills of public speaking are transferable and necessary for success in these and a variety of other occasions.
If you are a rookie to public speaking, don’t sweat it. There are some tried and tested methods that you can employ to improve your chances for success. Similarly, even if you consider yourself to be an old hat at public speaking, it doesn’t hurt to check back in with this checklist and ensure you are giving yourself the best chance for success at your next speaking engagement.
Allow yourself to move
Many of those new to public speaking forget how important movement is to maintaining the attention of their audience. Conversely, some mistake this to mean that they need to be constantly moving to hold their audience captive. It is a fine balance, but one you can definitely tune over time. Think of how you move and place various parts of your body when you are talking one-on-one to people. That stance and those movements are your natural ones you use to engage those around you. Return to these gestures and level of movement whenever you get stressed in the moment.
Crank up the energy
Your audience is looking to you for how to react – you are the catalyst for the reactions that will follow. Knowing this, it is clear that if you want to have an audience that is engaged and active, you yourself have to be engaging and active. Be sure to crank up the energy levels when you are speaking. You will command more attention and will project more of your natural confidence and charisma.
It will take a particularly gifted person to be able to consistently stand in front of others and speak confidently with no preparation. For the rest of us, preparation is a must. Experienced speakers do plenty of research so that they feel confident in their material and their ability to deliver it. Also, preparation is essential to be on your toes to answer any questions that may come your way after the presentation. It’s important to go through multiple iterations of your material, revising and editing it to achieve the most polished and finished delivery you can muster.
Every experienced speaker will tell you this one important truism: great speeches take practice. Experienced speakers will often do many dry runs of their material in front of a trusted audience, namely their family, friends or colleagues. They will replicate the environment the real event will take place in as close as possible. They’ll choreograph their movements and gestures to punctuate important points throughout the speech. They will recognise their weak points and will put more effort into turning these weaknesses into strengths. Great speeches rarely, if ever, just happen.
Present a digestible amount of information
Although you need to be prepared for your speech with the most amount of information you can gather, you also need to be an adept editor of your own speech. Many speakers feel compelled to get through as much material as possible to get their point across. This can lead to rushing, poor explanation of your points and in general, an unintelligible presentation. Being prepared also includes understanding what you need to present to your audience to demonstrate your point, while still maintaining their attention. Always have a little more information up your sleeve than you present in your initial speech. This is useful for Q & A sessions and any follow up questions you may receive. Remember, if you getting asked questions it usually means you stimulated someone’s mind or provoked a further thought. It’s better to do this than lull your audience to sleep with an extended presentation devoid of space for free thinking.
Want to know if you are an effective communicator? Check out the LMA Effective Communication Checklist and give yourself a communication audit to improve your skills.