I have yet to meet someone who says public speaking is easy. When there is SO much to take into consideration, it’s no surprise how often and easily we f*ck up. The list of things to remember to do physically combat what we are striving to produce vocally and, let’s be honest, there is no set-in-stone formula to help you pull it off. So let’s narrow down all of the tips under the sun, and beam in on these 6 must-dos. Follow these user-friendly speaking tips and your listener will definitely be engaged in what they hear.
1. Outline your thoughts to communicate clearly
The old saying goes, “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I definitely swear by this lesson, but why does it only have to be, “if you don’t have something nice to say...?” Why can’t it be, “if you don’t have something smart to say, don’t say anything at all.” Or better yet, “if you don’t know why you’re speaking, don’t speak at all.”
Join me in hitting that button for the trap door every time you’re in a meeting and there’s that guy that has added 30 minutes to the meeting just because he doesn’t know how to STFU. It’s true, some people just like to hear themselves speak and, welp, unfortunately, these people aren’t going away. So, how can we save ourselves from the annoyance next time? Easy! Control the conversation.
Next time it is your turn to be the public speaker, build yourself an outline. Highlight all of your key speaking points and include brief verbiage as a reminder. Think of this as a little cheat sheet or cue card.
When you communicate using the fewest words possible, it will be easier for people to understand your message. Edit your script, then edit it again. Be sure to have a strong focus on your central topic and remind yourself that if you are getting too off topic, thn perhaps that portion can get edited out entirely or used for a different speaking engagement. Folks nowadays have shorter attention spans than ever. Haven’t you noticed how short movies have been getting? Keep what you have say short and sweet. Your audience will admire your organization and attention to detail. You said less but you had more focus. There was clarity and you were understood. This is the ultimate goal of communicating.
2. Speak short & sweetly.
So cool, you went to Yale. Those giant words you’re using kinda make you seem like a bitch. If you are truly trying to make sure your audience understands you, use a vocabulary that is easily understood by all. We do not know everyone’s backstory. What if English was not their first language and they do not know what “pretentious” translates to in their native language? That is just one example, however it’s smart of you to take comprehension into consideration when speaking to an unknown audience. Keep what you have to say short, sweet, and expel the immensely protracted terminology.
3. Hear yourself first.
Getting over the way you sound can be a whole battle within itself. But it’s something you need to get over quickly if you’re the one who has to speak.
I used to absolutely hate the way I sounded on recordings like my voicemail. Eek! It was a hassle to record and painful to playback. However, hearing how you sound only opens up an improvement opportunity for yourself. If you don’t like how you sound, it is possible to change this, but not without hitting that record and playback.
Also, is there emotion behind what you’re saying? Identifying an emotion to pair with what you’re saying will help you sound more authentic and passionate about your topic. When your audience can also feel what you’re saying, it will add tremendous value behind what is being said because it makes you relatable. Have you ever gotten goosebumps when you’ve been listening to someone? That was you feeling the speaker’s emotion.
4. Don’t forget to BREATHE.
Let me guess his isn’t the first time you’ve heard this tip. The reason why this is constantly pounded into our heads with just about everything is because it really works. When it comes to public speaking, you must have strong stamina and proper breathing techniques. Don’t skip any of your breaths. Often times, when someone is listening to you, their breathing will sync with yours and your audience will literally be waiting for your breath so they can breathe with you.
Before you start talking, take a breath. Place a breath before any major thoughts and where punctuation calls for it.
5. Slow down.
Remember Step One when we created that focused outline? Well, now there’s no need to rush! Often times, speakers have a lot to say and not a lot of time to say it. That is again why Step One is so important. Slowing down our speaking can be a tough skill to master, but remembering to follow a solidified outline makes it easier for us to take our time getting the words out. When slowing down our speech, we are also able to articulate our words and draw an emphasize to the statements that are the most significant.
6. Have a strong ending.
Must like the traditional writing style, our speaking opportunities should also be built using the classic sandwich method. We have our intro -- an explanation that sets up the dialog to follow. In the middle, we have our “meat” -- or the remarks that support our overall focus. Finally, we conclude what we have to say with a strong ending that summarizes your key thoughts and lets the audience know that you ended your speech.
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