15 Public Speaking Skills That Will Lead you to Success
1. Know your topic. It’s much better to be an expert in a niche area than it is to be ‘a good all rounder’. Stick to what you know and be a real authority.
2. Do your research. Knowing your material isn’t necessarily the same as knowing how to convey your message. Help the audience absorb your public speaking message by focusing on message delivery.
3. Break your material up. Ease the load on working memory of your audience by using logical, bite size chunks.
4. Don’t be afraid of making things simple. Would you rather be simple and remembered or complex and forgotten?
5. Use statistics sparingly and only if they complement your ideas. Quotes can be good too, but make sure their purpose is clear. Does it help the audience remember my key messages? If it doesn’t, cut it out.
6. Tell stories. People love stories. Your key messages are likely to be remembered if they are woven into a workable narrative. (Read more on storytelling here.)
7. Keep to time. Whether you have 30 seconds or 90 minutes; people set agendas, make plans and have lives around your public speaking slot. Be sure to stick to whatever time you’ve been given.
8. Start strong. Commit the first couple of minutes of your speech to memory. Learn every word, every pause and every breath. Grab the attention of the audience and make them believe that you’ve got something to say that is worth listening to.
9. Finish succinctly. Wrap the whole thing up for your audience; they can either take it or leave it.
10. Don’t put words on the screen if you want people listen to the words that you are saying. Graphics should support your message, not confuse it.
11. Punctuate your speech with gestures. Guide the audience through your words with passionate hand movements and positive body language. (Read more about body language here.)
12. Vary your eye contact. Be sure to engage with every face in the room.
13. Interact with the audience. Make your speech seem more like a conversation than a presentation.
14. Deal with questions before you close. Don’t sheepishly hand over control to the audience immediately after your big set piece. Reel your audience in for one final sales push before you send them back out into the busy world.
15. Learn from those around you. Listen to others and be aware of different styles and techniques. Observing the strengths and weaknesses of others will help you craft better performances.