Many people fear public speaking, and they have good reason to. It can be nerve racking to speak in front of strangers, and even more frightening to speak in front of a group of familiar faces. What if you make a mistake? What if you forget your lines, and everyone remembers only how bad your speech was?
The embarrassment of such a public speaking nightmare is enough to deter many people from getting up in front of others and speaking. However, strong speaking skills will increase your career options. To advance your career, here are three public speaking skills to master.
1. Meeting Briefing
This short speech is an important one to learn if you aspire to become a team leader or project lead. A few basic tips can help you deliver a successful briefing. After all, you want to look knowledgeable while connecting with your audience.
Here are 4 steps to preparing and delivering a meeting briefing that your boss and team will appreciate.
Tip 1: Know the purpose of the meeting.
What is the purpose of the meeting? Make sure you cover this point at the start of your presentation. Know how much time you have for your presentation beforehand and bring your watch or use the room clock to keep track of the time.
Who will be at the meeting? Find out who your audience is to determine what industry jargon or technical material you should or shouldn’t use. When in doubt, use terms that your audience can easily understand.
Tip 2: State the purpose of the meeting.
In one to two sentences, state what the purpose of the briefing is. The focus of your briefing will be these one to two points. A briefing is not as formal as a speech, so only main points need to be written down. You won’t need to prepare your presentation word for word.
Tip 3: Organize your presentation.
Arrange your presentation into three parts. It should have an introduction, three or more main points, and a conclusion. The main points in this outline should have some order, such as chronological, cause and effect, or topical.
Tip 4: Summarize the main points and answer questions.
Review the main points of your presentation by stating them again. Leave enough time to answer questions from your audience.
2. A Speech for a General Audience
Giving a speech to a general audience can be more challenging. You may not know their background or what brought them to your presentation. The following tips will help you engage your audience.
Tip 1: Speak slowly and clearly.
Enunciate each of your words clearly. Sometimes linking too many words together can blur the meaning of a word or make your words harder to understand. For example, “can” and “can’t” can be hard to distinguish when spoken quickly and without emphasis in a sentence.
Speak slowly. One way to judge your speed is by the reaction of your audience. Are they paying attention? Are people nodding?
Tip 2: Avoid slang, idiomatic expressions, clichés, or words with multiple meanings.
It may be tempting to resort to clichés to explain an idea, but your audience may not understand the meaning if they are from another cultural background. For those who have heard the expression a thousand times before, it’s better to provide a fresh way to express an idea.
For example, “off the hook”, “burn the candle at both ends”, or “learn the ropes” are expressions that can be used to describe work situations, but they may have other meanings in other cultures. Some people may interpret the meaning of each word literally.
Tip 3: Watch your body language and eye contact.
Be aware of your body language. Your closeness to the audience, the podium, or edge of the stage sends a message to your listeners.
Standing with arms crossed or standing while slouching also sends a message about your confidence or openness.
Eye contact keeps you engaged with your audience. Try to appear as if you are looking for a few seconds at each person in the room to make them feel like you are speaking to them.
You don’t have to have a career in sales to master a sales pitch. This type of presentation is one of the most useful of the three because it’s handy to be able to sell an idea or product. You could be selling someone on hiring you. You could be persuading your supervisor to give you extra time off or to get a promotion. Your sales pitch can be organized in a few key steps.
Tip 1: Organize your points.
Keep in mind that it’s key to get to the point right away. To do this, you want to organize your speech in the inverted pyramid. Talk about the most important point(s) first. What is the purpose of your presentation? Keep the purpose or objective clear.
Tip 2: Have a call to action.
Follow up each point with evidence to illustrate and support your point. Ensure you have a call to action. What do you want the audience to do after hearing your speech?
Tip 3: Use visual aids to support key points in your presentation.
Visual aids can be images, posters, or slides that are large enough and positioned so each audience member can see them. It should also feel natural to work with visual aids. If you feel uncomfortable doing a slide show, for example, then find other ways to illustrate your presentation.
Tip 4: Allow time for questions and answers.
At the end of your presentation, leave enough time to answer questions. Your audience will have the chance to get clarification on what you presented. If you aren’t sure what someone is asking, have them repeat the question. For longer questions, answer them by breaking them down into smaller parts.
It’s important to be able to express your ideas through public speaking. As a confident speaker, you can persuade others, sell your idea, or present at meetings. If you’re aspiring for a leadership position at work, your ability to speak in public will influence your success. Even if public speaking is not your forte now, you can take a class or join a local Toastmasters chapter to begin improving that skill tomorrow.
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