Speaking

5 Tips That Will Make You a Fearless Public Speaker

Anybody who has had to prepare a speech or presentation before has most likely received the same advice over and over again – Imagine that the audience is naked, practice your speech countless times beforehand and remember to make eye contact with individuals in the crowd.

While advice that follows along these traditional guidelines may be helpful, there is another set of tips, written by Alex Honeysett at The Muse that are likely to help you to conquer your nervousness and deliver the best speech you possibly can.

Remember to Focus on the Audience

Try not to place too much focus on yourself in your mind. Even though you’re the one who has written the content and prepared for weeks, it is actually about what you can teach your audience. Taking the pressure off of yourself and placing significance on the key message that you wish to share will allow you to think more about the core content that really matters, and less about coming across as perfect.

Try thinking less about you, and more about the audience and the way you can make them feel through the words and messages that you deliver. According to Honeysett, this is how some of the most effective speeches that carry the most impact are brought to life.

Become Familiar with the way Fear Feels in Your Body

It is natural, and extremely likely to happen no matter how much you mentally prepare yourself, to feel afraid and experience that sensation of adrenaline pumping through your veins. This “fight or flight” feeling, usually sends signals in the body to panic and abandon the task that is bringing on the fear.

Speakers who have experienced this in front of an audience before, often end up being afraid of being afraid. This anticipation will cause a sense of panic when you start feeling that fear in front of an audience again, and the result will be a performance that you will not be happy with.

The best thing to do in order to curb your fear of speaking in public is to rather become familiar with it. Ask yourself what happens to your body when you feel nervous? Do you speak very quickly? Run a blank? Feel the need to throw up?

Identifying how fear feels physically to you will enable you to:

Effectively Subdue Those Feelings

Head of TED Talks, Chris Anderson once said that, when he was especially anxious about a speech he was to give, he would go to the stairwell and do push ups in order to get rid of some of his adrenaline. This helped him to calm his nerves and feel more confident.

Author and public speaker, Simon Sinek said that when he feels nervous, he tells himself instead that he is excited.This change in mind-set is often said to be common in Olympic athletes, who are asked in interviews after their performance if they were tense beforehand, and they reply that they were not nervous, but excited.

Methods of soothing your feelings of anxiousness will be unique to you. It is important to focus on changing your frame of mind and finding what works best for you in order to overcome the fear before, and during, your performance.

Don’t Let Those Not-So Friendly Faces in the Audience Affect You

No matter the size of the crowd that you are speaking in front of, there will always be those seemingly bored and disinterested faces. Don’t let them discourage you. Rather focus on the friendly faces in the crowd who are hanging onto each word you are saying. Concentrating on the more negative expressions will leave you distracted and feeling insecure.

Don’t Be Scared to Be Independent from Your Notes

Nobody enjoys listening to a speaker who rattles off notes from a PowerPoint presentation.  It is, of course, important to be prepared, know your content extremely well and memorize some main points that will guide you as you speak. However, t is difficult to connect with your audience if you are too distracted by saying each word as you originally prepared it.

Honeysett therefore suggests having a PowerPoint with your main points, and using a piece of paper with key segments of information from your speech. Trust that you have prepared well and know the content enough to be able to speak about it naturally without having each word written down.

It is also encouraged not to wait until “the right time” to get yourself out there. If there is an industry conference that you’d be interested in contributing your expertise to, or a local event or team presentation that you would like to lead, write a gripping proposal (or email to your boss) and get yourself out there as soon as possible. Granted, you will be scared, but the experience will be worth it and this advice assist in making you a phenomenal speaker.

15 Tips to Take Note of For your Future Speeches and Presentations

Joe Pulizzi from the Content Marketing Institute has said in an article that he will do over 40 speeches and keynotes, and more than 50 web presentations in a year. He has also said that, after his blog and books, speaking at public events has been one of the most effective aspects in growing his business.

He has provided a set of tips for presenting and speaking in public that will assist you in your future speaking endeavours.

  1. Include your Twitter handle on each slide. No matter the size or type of event you are speaking at, there are always several people who will actively be using Twitter. It is not enough to put your Twitter name only on the first slide as people may come in late, or not notice it. Since Pulizzi started adding his handle to each slide in his presentation, tweets have more than doubled. This is a highly effective way to spread your message and gain exposure.
  2. Add Tweetable sayings to your slides. Including sayings of no more than 140 characters and repeating them at least twice will ensure that the message will have the biggest impact possible on your audience.
  3. Promote your speech beforehand using the event’s hashtag. 24 hours before, and the morning of your speech, send out a tweet to let people know where and when you are speaking as well as what you are speaking about. Include the event’s hashtag to significantly increase your reach.
  4. Do not put more than 20 words on a slide. Use only headlines and main points to guide you through your topic. Make sure to include pictures to accompany your messages. Remember that if people have to take time to read your slide, they will lose interest.
  5. When using words, ensure that they are a minimum of 30 points in size. People from all distances and perspectives in the room should be able to comfortably read your slides.
  6. Do not speak behind a podium. This creates an unneeded barrier between you and your audience. It is important to speak with your audience, not at them.
  7. Do not be afraid to walk around. It is perfectly acceptable to find a few points on the stage between which you can walk as you speak. Hold your position at a spot for five seconds before moving on to the next one. You can also move on when beginning a new topic.
  8. Develop a unique speaking style. Pay attention to the way in which you represent yourself. Pulizzi always wears an orange shirt when speaking at events, and people have begun to familiarize him with the color orange. Enhancing your physical style will contribute significantly to being remembered and recognized by the audience.
  9. Remember to smile. Smiling is contagious and is a great way to break the ice with an audience when beginning your speech. Set cues for yourself every five minutes to remember to do so. This also helps to keep people awake and attentive.
  10. Include calls to action through short links. It is a great idea to provide links to additional information and resources in your slides. This will increase much-desired audience engagement.
  1. Give away a reward to encourage participation. This will help when it comes to the questions section of your presentation, and will also create networking opportunities when delivering the prize once it has ended.
  2. Have one key call to action. Don’t give the attendees too many options. Identify one thing that you want them to do from each speech and track the engagement through coupon codes or short links.
  3. Make use of lists. It is good practice to use numbers in your titles. They attract audiences and allow them to keep track of where you are in your speech as you present it.
  4. Adjust the flow every five minutest to include a story. Telling a story that is related to your point every eight minutes will maintain your audience’s interest and effectively deliver the message of your speech. People remember stories the most, and therefore this is an great technique to use, especially for longer presentations.
  5. Take note of repetition. Aristotle’s advice on speeches is: Tell the audience what you are going to tell them – this is the intro. In the body, tell them what you have said you are going to tell them; and when concluding, tell them what you just told them. This kind of set up ensures that your message will effectively “stick”.

Speech and Presentation Tips from the Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking 2015

Presenting an effective speech not only requires a significant amount of self-assuredness and confidence, but also a set of techniques and skills that are applied to establish an authentic connection with the audience and evoke feelings within the people you are speaking to.

The Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking, Mohammed Qahatini has shared some tips on how to deliver an effective presentation.

Qahtini is a security engineer from Saudi Arabia who was recommended by a friend to join a Toastmasters club in 2009. He took extensive training in order to become the best speaker within his personal capacity.

In 2015 he made it through seven rounds of a competition that spanned over six months and held 33,000 world-wide competitors. On the 15th of August he won the final round for his speech, “The Power of Words”.

Tell yourself you’re “Better” Than Your Audience

Having grown up with a stutter, and still being affected by it at times, Qahtini said that speaking on stage to an audience made him feel empowered and able to overcome his speech impediment.

He learned this technique from a public speaking coach, who advised him to tell himself that he was “better” than his audience. This should not be taken from an egotistical perspective, but rather with a sense that you are speaking in front of people who are interested in what you have to say. It is a state of mind that eliminates the fear of embarrassment and humiliation. There is no need to feel insecure as they are the ones who are admiring you.

Determine Your Key Message that You Want Your Audience To Leave With and Make it Relevant Throughout

When writing a speech, it is of utmost importance to ensure that you have a clear and coherent message that is reiterated throughout your presentation. The message of Qahtini’s “The Power of Words” speech was straightforward: We need to be aware of the power that our words may hold over other people, whether this is a positive thing or not.

Your Audience Should Be Your Main Concern When on Stage

Ideally, your speech should have been practiced enough beforehand for you to feel completely comfortable about its content and delivery. Qahtani said that a friend once advised him not to worry about how you look, sound or where you are on stage – the most important thing is speaking on a personal level to your audience and playing off of their energy.

Acknowledge Your Strengths and Use Them to Your Advantage

A fellow speaker once told Qahatani that, some people’s strengths lie in their use of words, their voice or their stage presence, and that his strength was humor. Qahtani had casual experience in stand-up comedy in his student years at Arizona State Universiy and has a knack for finding the humorous aspects in situations.

He kept it authentic though; if people didn’t find a particular topic funny, he would not use jokes in his speeches.

Establish a Balance of Emotions

Although humor can be very effective in breaking the ice with an audience, it is important to bring in an essence of seriousness and personal anecdotes throughout the speech – otherwise it may seem more like a stand-up act.

No matter how you determine the way in which your speech will progress, it is important, however, to remember that a speech that is too serious may leave a melancholic effect on the audience, instead of leaving them feeling empowered and satisfied.

Perform Your Speech as Many Times as Possible to an Honest Audience

Remember that you are writing a speech for an audience, and not for yourself. Saying your speech to people who you can trust not to give sugar-coated feedback will make a world of difference to the revision, polishing and quality of your speech.

It is also for this reason that joining a Toastmasters group is highly beneficial. Not only do you receive great support from fellow speakers, you also receive honest and well-informed criticism and feedback.

Try Not to Memorize Your Speech

According to Qahtani, attempting to commit every word of your speech to memory will only result in a less effective performance. He prefers to visualize a plan with key points in his speech that he expands on during his presentation. It is imperative to be familiar enough with the content you have written that you can naturally speak about it.

You can view Qahtani’s full speech here.