Public speaking is not quite the easiest thing to do for most people. It is called "Glossophobia" and it is believed to affect up to 75% of the population, so yes, you are definitely not alone. Maybe you are an introvert and being the center of attention isn't your cup of tea. Or you have little experience with speeches and you are not sure if the message you are trying to convey will get to your audience. But even if you are an extrovert with a bunch of presentation skills, there are still some tips and tricks that could help you improve your public speaking.
The 5 SHOWS
The main aspect of delivering a powerful speech is the quality of the actual content of your presentation. Does it matter to the audience? Is it engaging enough? Is the audience stimulated to continue learning about the topic? A presentation is ultimately a performance, a SHOW and the public is the star of it. To help you deliver a captivating, clear, well-defined message, let me share with you some simple tactics to make it a success!
1.) The public is the star of the SHOW
One way of engaging your listeners is to make them feel that they are important. The key is to talk to the audience in a personal, 1 to 1 manner, and not talk AT them. By shifting the focus from the message of the presentation to the recipients you will shape their perception on the topic itself.
Don't deliver a lecture you couldn't sit through. Think about what questions are in your mind when you are the outlooker. Things like "How could this change my life?" ," Is this even helpful?", "Will this be a waste of time?", " Does this apply to me?". By answering these questions early on in the presentation you can help them understand the VALUE their attendance brings in return of their invested time. And this brings us to the next topic: Adding value.
Tip: You can raise the impact by using the word "you"
Help them understand how the information you are presenting will affect them personally.
2.) SHOW them the value
Humans are passionate about themselves. It's a fact. If you don't focus on them, their attention will slowly drift away. They will think about the bills they have to pay, the food delivery options, the latest game released and so on. The human attention span has decreased tremendously in the past decades. The most recent studies tell us that the average human has an attention span of just 8.25 seconds . That's why it is crucial that you present the value straight away and get to the point. Let's take e-shops as an example. What do you see on the landing page? The best deals, new products, you even have the option of "add to cart" before you go to the actual shop section. What about the "about us" page? It's on the far end of the navigation bar or in the footer somewhere. Why? Because the user is there to shop, not read about how the company was founded.
By engaging the individual, you will find yourself speaking to a motivated listener who is more likely to follow suggested action-items as a result of attending your talk.
Tip: Go straight to the value
Keep the information relevant and give pointers on where they can learn more about it, if they care to do some extra research afterwards.
3.) Promises should SHOW up to the event
Before attending your event the audience should know what the topics and the gains are. You have to fulfill your promises and touch every subject priorly mentioned. Some people have the tendency to go with the flow and drift into other subjects that might be more or less related to the main subject. Remember that the allocated time is limited and keep to the topics that bring the most value. Short and sweet.
Tip: Keep it simple
Don't overwhelm the public with too much information, after a certain point they will enter the cognitive overdrive and no matter how brilliant your ideas, there's simply no more room for it.
4.) SHOW off through storytelling
Story time has a huge potential to aid in your delivery. Some of the benefits of incorporating stories into the speech are: increasing the personal connection with the people attending, helping them visualize the message, and making your message more relatable. It can also act like a connector and bring all the ideas together, putting the information into context.
When using stories or anecdotes to convey the message, make sure that the stories are not too lengthy and they are well-structured enough to capture their attention.
Presentations should be first of all, understandable, so talk in their language. Memorable. Don't be afraid to introduce them to out of the ordinary ideas. And emotional, because we should not forget that we are all humans with common perks and problems.
Tip: Make it personal.
Imagine that you are talking to an individual and not to a mass of people. Capture the persona of your audience and understand the knowledge level of your audience. Just like in marketing: Who is your audience? What do they need? How can you help them? How would they receive the message easier? Maybe the persona relates to emotional stories, and you can use emotional stories to touch their heart-strings. Or you can go with humor, to release tension, to connect with them and to potentially make it memorable. When you are pitching for a product, for example, the product is the solution to a problem they can personally relate to.
5.) Don't rely on your slide-SHOW
The slide-show is not for you. Don't read off your slides, they're there just as a short, easy-to-read synthesis for the audience. Changing-up the way you deliver the information every now and then can help the dynamics of your presentation. Images or videos can be a great asset in helping the visually inclined people to retain information. You can even insert a short exercise to engage them, but nothing too complicated so they don't shut off, as they are surely feeling just as anxious to put themselves out there.
Tip: Make your presentation shareable
They have the piece of mind that they will have it for future reference and they don't focus their attention on writing it all down or taking pics of the slides.
Your speech should be fluid. To help you in delivering value early on, you can use the Pyramid Structure. You can even use an Essay(Full-circle)-like structure: chapter list, core value, summary and call to action. Soft cliff-hangers could also be part of your strategy: end your presentation with a teaser to create anticipation for the next topics you'll talk about.
Slide show rules
The 5-5-5 rule : no more than five words per line, no more than than five lines of text per slide and no more than five text-heavy slides in a row.
The 10-20-30 rule : a slide presentation may have no more than 10 slides, never last more than 10 minutes and have a minimum 30 p. font size.
Tips for feeling more confident
1.) Eye contact
Eye contact helps them feel engaged and helps you convey your message more effectively. Initially, you might be nervous to make eye contact. It's fine, just look at their foreheads to start with. It will seem to them as you are looking at them, and you will seem confident. After getting more comfortable, you'll feel more keen to look directly at them.
It is ok to pause to think. It might feel like it takes forever, but it helps you remove the "umm"s and therefore, supporting you in looking in charge and sure about what you are saying, It also gives the audience time to think about what you are saying. Win-win.
3.) Have a real interest in the topic
You will have more chances at delivering an entrancing presentation if you are genuinely passionate about what you are talking about. Talking in an animated manner will keep the audience engaged and showing enthusiasm will get your message across in a more captivating way.
If you have reached the point where you are holding a presentation, you most likely know tons about the subject, but do your research beforehand. It helps when you eliminate missing pieces and you have the certainty that whatever questions might come towards you in the Q&A slot, you'll be able to answer confidently.
5.) Moving around
It might help you with your nerves, so feel free to use hand gestures or change your place in the available space. As a bonus, it will make your presentation livelier.
6.) Non-verbal communication
Is of great importance, as well. Watch a video about non-verbal communication and see how all your gestures affect the way you are being perceived.
Paying attention to your posture will help you feel more comfortable and keeping your back straight will make you look confident and authoritative.
8.) The basics
Don't forget to breathe and keep some water at hand.
9.) Enunciation and pronunciation
Practice your actual way of speaking. Make sure that your projection is loud enough and you are pronouncing the words clearly and correctly. Record yourself and do some articulation exercises such as tongue twisters: "Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie".
Practice your written speech in advance, just to make sure that you touch the topics in the right sequence. Don't over-rehearse it or memorize it word-by-word, you don't want to sound like a robot, you are casually sharing information about a topic you know.
11.) Steal their techniques
Listen to professional speakers and note what you liked about their delivery. When were you the most engaged in their speech?
12.) See yourself
You might dread this, but watch a video of your presentation and see yourself through their eyes. After adjusting to seeing and hearing your own self, take note of everything you didn't enjoy so much and improve it on the next occasion.
13.) Practice makes perfect
The more you engage in public speaking, the easier it will become. Put yourself out there and remember that most of your insecurities are seen only by yourself.
"The value of the presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send, but by what the listener receives" - Lilly Walters
Public speaking might seem really scary, at first, but there are many benefits in getting accustomed to holding a speech: you'll boost your confidence, you'll improve your communication and listening skills and develop your critical thinking.
Use all 4 ways of communication: verbal, non-verbal, written and visual to engage the public in the first moments of your presentation, deliver the promised value and create an emotional connection to the topic and you will become a pro speaker in no time.