The art of public speaking involves presenting information to a live audience, with the view of capturing their attention, whilst delivering a message – perhaps entertaining, informative, educational, or influential.
According to the Harvard Division of Continued Education, these hints and tips will provide the necessary skills and techniques, in order to become a more confident public speaker.
. Inject personal style and character into a speech to engage with the audience. Tell stories or use anecdotes and do not shy away from using humour. Laughter is always a great way to engage with the listener.
. Try to avoid scripted speaking. It prevents maintaining eye contact with the audience and lacks personal connection. Try to work from a brief outline of key points rather than a scripted piece. This ensures that the given speech stays on track and key points will not be missed, whilst maintaining fluid communication with the audience.
. Keep body language in check. Non-verbal communication is just as important in conveying a message as verbal communication. Try to avoid nervous gestures and ensure hands and voice are used effectively to make and explain points.
. Start a public speech with a clear, concise quotation or anecdote to immediately grab the attention of the audience and captivate their attention. Aim for a dynamic ending with a strong conclusion that the audience will remember.
. Audio-visual aids should be used sparingly and only to enhance what is being said, which should be the main focus. Too many audio-visual aids can be distracting and may break down connections with the audience and affect their attention span and listening.
How Can I Improve my Skills Further?
Public speaking is a specialised skill, and many people can benefit from becoming competent speakers, particularly leaders, educators, trainers and management. There are many resources available to strengthen skills in speech delivery and confidence, such as train the trainer courses. This, together with other useful courses, resources, insights and advice, can be found at specialist sites such as https://www.collegeofpublicspeaking.co.uk/courses/train-the-trainer-courses.
Finally, practise and prepare as much as possible, but there is no need to strive for absolute perfection. Everyday communication is rarely perfect, however, adequate preparation can ensure that nerves are kept to a minimum and that speech delivery is full of concise information and delivered in a way to capture attention.