Public Speaking and Presentation Skills Tips

25 Public Speaking Tips

Public Speaking is a skill that can be developed and mastered over time. The 25 tips below will help you improve your public speaking and presentation skills sooner. They will enable you to concentrate your efforts in the right areas to ensure your skills and confidence grow in the shortest time possible.

 

1.      Know your first and last lines

The key to a successful presentation is having a strong opening and a powerful close. These are the two aspects of a pitch that should be perfect. Your opening is crucial to get the attention of those in the room, whilst the lines you deliver last will be the final opportunity you have to say something memorable and close them on the idea you are selling them on.

 

2.      Know your audience

Audience Questions

When you understand whom you will be presenting to you can prepare and deliver a more effective presentation. You need to understand an audiences pain points, what motivates them, and what they are proud of/loyal too. When you are armed with this information you can select the correct content, correct examples, correct testimonials to influence their thinking and ultimate decision.

 

 

3.      Meet and Greet

Before you can influence an audience you need to build rapport with them. One of the most effective methods is to “meet and greet” audience members. By simply shaking hands and chatting with audience members you can establish rapport before you start speaking, which means that they will be much, more receptive to the ideas you are presenting to them.

 

4.      Don’t leave the Q&A session until the end

It is not uncommon for a question and answer session to be held at the end of the pitch. There is a lot of value in conducting a Q&A session because it allows you to clarify areas of misunderstanding and deal with any potential objections to the solution you have pitched. However it should not be the last activity of your presentation. At the end of the Q&A session you should deliver a mini conclusion that sums up all the answers you have provided and leaves the audience with the messages you want them to remember (see “Tip 1: Know your first and last lines”).

 

5.      Content is KING

You can have the best delivery skills but if you have no substantive content you are wasting everyone’s time! And, your audience will resent you for it. Invest in preparing the right content for your audience and you will be rewarded for your efforts.

Technical Presentations Audience

6.      Use the language tools available

Within the English language, we have a variety of tools that enable us to make our speeches and pitches far more engaging and memorable. You have metaphors, alliteration and other language tools that enable us to prepare and deliver memorable messages. Messages that will resonate in the mind of the audience members long after they have left the room. So that when they’re sat back at their desk, they’re thinking of what you said, and that is what comes to mind when it’s time for them to make a decision.

 

7.      You are more important than PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a visual aid only. Sadly, many people use PowerPoint as a speech-writing tool, and, this is what results in boring and uninteresting presentations. They consist of slides that are covered in text. They are the presentations that have no images and no engagement factor. When you are preparing your presentation, and when you’re about to deliver your presentation – YOU should be the primary focus. PowerPoint is there to support your message with appropriate visual images, nothing more. So keep yourself centre of attention as you prepare your presentation.

 

8.      Engage in conversation

Now, you might not actually engage with a conversation with 30, 40, or 50 people in the audience. But you want your audience members to feel that you are having a conversation with each of them individually. This means that you need to examine the words you will say in your presentation, and ask yourself, “Is this the way that you would speak if you were having a one on one conversation?” Would you phrase what you are saying in exactly the same way? If you wouldn’t, then you need to change it and adapt your language. Your audience needs to feel that you are having a one on one conversation with them, even though you’re not. So make sure that your language is tailored and phrased as such.

 

9.      Be yourself

You need to be who you are. It is easy to fall into the temptation of trying to emulate famous public speakers. Don’t!! The way for you to be the best public speaker that you can be is for you to be yourself – just a little bit larger. This means that you need to make sure that your personality, the way you describe things, the language you use is reflected in your presentation. Don’t go for a formal style if you’re not normally formal. Don’t plan on being a speaker that you’re not. So look at who you are – what your personality is, and deliver your speech in the same way, but just a little bit bigger. A little bit more grandiose, so that it comes across in the room. Bring yourself is the most important thing you can do.

 

10.  Record yourself

The most effective way to get better at public speaking is to record your presentation. Every time you deliver a speech or deliver a presentation, record it, and then re-watch it or re-listen to it. This will help you find those little mannerisms, strange behaviour – those little things that you’re doing that are going to be distracting to your audience. Taking the time to record yourself and re-watch or re-listen, so that you learn from your presentations, and develop your skills every single time you step up and speak will develop your skills quickly.

 

11.  Rehearse

Don’t believe for one second that you can give a pitch perfect presentation without practice. All of the great speeches, all of the great presentations throughout the ages have all been practiced. You need to take the time to run through your presentation at least once – if not 2, 3, 4 times before you ever think about delivering it to a live audience. This is so that you can ensure that you know the material, you’re comfortable with the ideas that you’re communicating, and how you are going to move from one idea to the next. Taking the time to rehearse will enable you to iron out any difficulties before you’re standing in front of an audience.

 

12.  Use stories

Stories are how humans have communicated and shared the important ideas and lessons through the ages. Every civilization has leveraged stories to share morals and ideas about how things should be. We are, by nature, emotional people. We rely on our ability to emotionally connect with one another to share ideas. You can leverage that power by using stories in your speeches and in your presentations to convey your ideas. It will enable you to influence people at a far deeper and a far more impactful level, by simply using stories in your presentations. This will enable you to become more memorable, and more persuasive in the process.

 

13.  Do not read your speech

A great speech is a speech, which is a conversation with an audience. When you have a conversation 1 on 1, you don’t have pre-prepared material that you read, preventing you from making eye contact with the person you are talking too. Instead, you have a natural flow. And that’s why, when speaking to an audience it is important that you don’t read your speech. Instead, make eye contact and deliver your speech as if it were a conversation. By reading a speech, you limit your ability to make eye contact, and that visual connection with an audience. You also lose your vocal influencing skills because you become staid and static, and very robotic and monotone.

 

14.  Bring energy

When you deliver your speech, you have got to deliver it with an energy and enthusiasm that reflects the words that you are saying. It is completely undermining to the audience for a speaker to stand up and say they are passionate about a topic, when they deliver the words with just a monotone, dull voice. Make sure that the energy and enthusiasm that you’re words are describing is reflected in the way that you say them. Ensure that you have energy in your voice, and that you have energy or passion to your stage movement. As you move around the speaking area, allow that energy to become infectious and enthuse your audience.

 

15.  Use humour (but don’t tell jokes!)

One of the most impactful ways that you can influence an audience is to have humour in your pitch so that your audience is laughing and enjoying your presentation. When an audience is enjoying a pitch – they will be far more open to the ideas that being shared within it. So don’t be afraid to use humour. But avoid the temptation to use jokes. Jokes are risky and they have a high chance of offending an audience. Instead, look at the humour that’s in the stories that you’re telling, and draw that out to get a natural laughter from your audience.

 

16.  Leave handouts until the end

If you intend to provide your audience with a hand out, whether it’s 1 piece of paper or several pieces of paper – avoid giving it to them until you have finished your speech. By providing them your handout before you finish speaking, you are giving them an opportunity to be distracted from the material you’re saying. By holding onto those handouts until the very end and distributing them as people leave, you provide a mechanism to ensure that the focus of your audience members is on what you are saying and your visual aids. They will pay much deeper attention, and when they leave the room, you can give them the handouts to provide them casual reminders and casual prompts when they are back at their desk.

 

17.  Use silence for power

Silence is the most powerful sound in public speaking. By saying nothing, you provide an opportunity for your audience to digest the importance of previous words that you have said. It also projects a confidence and an aura that few speakers possess. The ability to pause and stand in front of a room silently, will project you as a confident and powerful speaker. It will also enable you to ensure that the important points that you want your audience to remember are actually recalled. Because you can say your important line and then pause, allowing your audience time to digest those key thoughts and key words that you just said. So use the power of the pause, and learn how to stay silent.

 

18.  Stand strong

Stand Tall

You must have a strong and confident posture when speaking. This will enable you to project an aura to the room so that your audience visually is appealed to you. They look at you and see you as a confident and powerful speaker. That will help you sell your ideas, and increase your ability to influence people. By simply standing with your feet shoulder width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your shoulders back and you are able to stand tall – and you will present an image of a speaker who is confident and has the presence of a senior executive.

 

 

 

 

19.  Deal with the elephant in the room

Deal with the elephants in the roomThere are many things that can go wrong as you deliver your speech. It can be as simple as the air conditioning switching off, the PowerPoint projector failing, or the audience receiving bad news immediately before they walked in to your presentation. There are a myriad of things that could be on the minds of the audience members as they walk into the room. If you don’t deal with those issues upfront, your audience will not listen to what you say. Rather, they will be contemplating what is on their mind. You need to stop that from happening. And you can achieve this by just acknowledging it. Acknowledge that the air conditioning is not working. Acknowledge that the projector is not working, but you’re going to proceed on. Acknowledge whatever it is that’s happened in their day-to-day activities before they’ve walked into your presentation. By acknowledging it will allow your audience to address that “elephant in room” and move it to the side. Enabling them to pay attention to what you are saying.

 

20.  Know your purpose

This is crucial! It is vital that you understand and know why you are delivering your speech. What are you trying to achieve with your presentation? If you do not know what you are trying to achieve, you have no hope of actually achieving anything. Take the time to know what the goal of your presentation is. This will enable you to then select the right material and the right ideas to present in your speech. Without it, you will present an aimless, waffling. Take the time to know why you’re speaking, and what you’re trying to achieve, so that you can deliver a focused and powerful message.

 

21.  Share benefits, not solutions

When you are trying to influence an audience, you need to remind them of why they should solve a particular problem. They’re not interested in the intimate detail of how your solution works. Rather, they’re interested in what your solution provides to them. By understanding why someone would want to use your solution, gives you a far greater opportunity to restate those reasons in many different forms, to show them the benefits of working with you. Share the benefits of solving the problem – not the solutions to the problems.

 

22.  Don’t make excuses

Things will inevitably go wrong. You may forget your lines. You may get stuck and stumble. That’s okay, but don’t make excuses. Acknowledge it and move on. When you make excuses, you pass control to your audience, and you lose your ability to influence them. By making excuses, you give away power. So don’t make excuses for when things go wrong, you need to own every issue, every challenge when you are speaking. Deal with it, acknowledge it and move on.

 

23.  Use exciting language

We have a wonderful language packed with exciting words available to use. There are many words that we can use that will enable us to be energising and interesting when we speak. Language that will trigger the audience to act. We can use staid, boring language, or we can use exciting words such as zippy, fast, or awesome. Words that have the ability to really influence and generate excitement with an audience. If you want to energise and excite an audience, use exciting language. Don’t use staid, boring, business style language.

 

24. Prepare less than you think you’ll need

A common mistake for novice public speakers is to prepare more, much more material than they actually need. If they have a 45 minute speech, they’ll prepare 60 minutes od material – on the belief that they’re going to speak faster, and race through their material. You are much better off preparing less. You should aim to prepare 30 minutes of material for a 45-minute presentation. This allows you to engage in conversation. Engage in questions with your audience. And if you do finish early, your audience will thank you rather than resent you for being respectful of their time.

 

25.  Remember – your audience wants you to succeed!

When did you last watch a speaker, and hope to see them to fail? It is uncomfortable for an audience to see a speaker struggling in front of them. You can use this to your advantage!! Your audience does not want to see you struggle. They want to see you do a good job. Use this goodwill to your advantage. Allow it can instil a level of confidence and provide a boost your self-esteem. Carry this thought with you… Your audience wants you to succeed.

Audience Members

 

 

About The Author

Mark Kyte

Mark Kyte is a public speaking mentor and founder of the Public Speaking Skills Academy. Mark loves helping clients achieve dynamic results that help them increase their influence and get more clients. Read more of his blog and if you like what you see check out the mentoring programs.