Public Speaking Tips

The list of public speaking tips is below, but first the fear factor.

Fighting the fear of public speaking has to be the number one barrier for most when it comes to public speaking.

Few would feel that same fear if asked to go across the hall to tell a colleague about something they know a lot about. Yet the formality and spotlight of public speaking changes them.

So don’t ever speak to a group. Rather, talk to one person at a time in your audience.

Make eye contact and just pretend for 15 seconds that you are talking to that person. And then move around. Go from face to face. Pick the ones with a half smile, the ones who are engaged and open. Makes you be the same way.

Take a half step toward that person. Just a small movement forward. Make your presentation a series of personal interactions. Even if you are up on a large stage, you can pick out faces.

Beyond the positive impact on your nerves, this tactic has the added benefit of providing a vehicle to deliver your important points. You make a key point with each person, and perhaps if important enough you repeat that point.

If you want to stress an important point, say it twice.

If you want to stress an important point, say it twice.

Now the list:

  1. Dress really well.
    1. Think of your outfit as a costume. 90% of communication is nonverbal. Appearance easily creates a sense of credibility. Make yourself look legit.
    2. Dark blue with some white as a contrast is such a no-brainer. Go strong with shoes. Hair away from face.
  2. Minimize notes.
    1. You need to know the general information. The goal is to communicate the cogent points effectively, so that they are understood as intended. The onus is on you, the speaker, to get the information across.
    2. Listening to you reading is not interesting. Your goal is not just to present the information; it is to ensure the content is understood.
  3. Your technology has to work.
    1. If you are using any sort of laptop hookup, microphone, pointer, clicker, or any other technology, don’t go on that stage until you KNOW everything is working. Don’t do a Starsky and Hutch into the room and on stage, then look at the clicker like you’ve never seen one before and wonder aloud which button does what.
    2. Your technology should not do your work for you. Charts of pictures are much better than loads of data. Percentages mean more than core numbers. Percentages give context and so I prefer them, although the nefarious can use stats to make damn near any point.
  4. Speak slowly, at least early. I can be awful in this regard. Physician, Heal Thyself.
  5. Speak to one person at a time. I will end where I began. Make your presentation a series of personal conversations. If an interview, use the camera as a person, but in all circumstances speak as if to one person at a time.

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