5 tips to be a successful public speaker
5 tips to be a successful public speaker
Even for the best communicators, speaking in public will always remain a tricky and risky task that has to be prepared and rehearsed. When the stakes are high, we are all faced with doubts, a feeling of discomfort, and stress. Nevertheless, mastering the ability to speak in public is essential to explain your point of view, communicate key ideas, and be convincing. Rest assured, it’s only a question of practice! Here are a few tips from our experts to give you some guidance:
1. Prepare your strategy in advance
Knowing how to speak in public includes defining the answers to the following questions prior to your talk: “Who is my audience?”, “What’s the end-goal of presentation?”, “What is the ONE BIG IDEA of my talk?” It is essential to answer these questions and to identify key points in order to define a solid strategy and a well-defined angle of communication.
The principle of “Less is more” also applies to the art of public speaking. There’s no point in delivering information overload through dozens of data points, confusing ideas, or examples that are more or less useful. In any case, your audience won’t be able to remember everything. It’s up to you to define the ONE BIG IDEA that your audience should take away and build your entire presentation around that idea.
2. Practice, practice, practice
Great public speakers weren’t born that way. It’s a learned skill that comes from practice: mastering your message ‘à la perfection’, working on your voice and posture, doing exercises on articulation… This crucial step is a key factor of success for public speaking. In addition, it is an excellent way to reduce stress and diminish apprehension.
Rehearse your talk in front of someone you trust, who can give you their feedback. You can also film yourself to analyze your strengths and weaknesses; these solutions will help you to identify areas of progress and tackle the big day with more calm.
3. Capture your audience’s attention
Thanks to solid preparation, you will have been able to define who your audience is, their expectations, and the one big idea that you intend to communicate. The only thing left to do is figure out how to grab their attention. To do that, it is essential to put rhythm into your talk and involve your audience to help them think about issues and experience various emotions.
- Ask your audience questions, whether they be open questions (that engage a discussion) or rhetorical (that engage the internal thinking process). Asking questions makes your talk more lively and interactive and involves everyone in the audience.
- Use the art of Storytelling to surprise your audience, crate strong emotions, and stand out from the crowd.
Ask your audience to visualize a situation or context by using words like, “just imagine…”.
And above all, put yourself in their shoes. If you are not convinced and moved by your presentation, nobody else will be.
4. Use visual aids appropriately
Still today, many presenters have a tendency to hide behind their slides that are too detailed, too complete with too many words as if that were THE solution to get your point across with the least amount of effort. But that is a big mistake.
Choose the information you want to display very carefully, boil them down to a few points, privilege images and iconography, use videos if that illustrates your points, and never turn your back to your audience to read your slides. And always remember: PowerPoint is at your service, not the contrary.
5. Craft your introduction and conclusion carefully
Your introduction and conclusion are key moments in your presentation. They represent the first and last impressions that your audience will have of you, meaning the first and last moments to state your message clearly and effectively.
It is therefore essential to word on these two key parts of public speaking more and to rehearse them several times. Care must be given to the wording and transitions; and you can illustrate your messages by using anecdotes and storytelling while staying concise and well-structured.
Public speaking can be a source of stress and apprehension for everyone. But just like for high-performing athletes or professional conference speakers, public speaking is not an innate talent, but rather the result of structured personal development and lots of practice.