Statistics show that public speaking is the number 1 fear of Americans. That boggles my mind. Jumping out of a plane sounds scarier than giving a speech to me. It is sad that people feel this way. Inspiring an audience to change their lives is fulfilling. It feels nice to make a difference and that feeling is magnified when you impact a room full of people.
Whether you plan to give frequent speeches or not, public speaking is useful for entrepreneurs and business owners. You’ll become a strong communicator which makes it easier to lead your employees. Convinced? If so, implement these public speaking tips for leaders.
1. Move with intention
Body language speaks volumes. If you claim to feel confident in your ability to help a client but your posture reflects insecurity, don’t expect to land that contract.
Plant your feet. Only move when you have a good reason. Use gestures to emphasize your points. This sounds obvious in theory. In practice, it’s more difficult. Here’s an idea that might help- find an empty room and, if you have a public speech coming soon, try to find a similarly sized room. Record a practice speech. Afterwards, review the result and ask yourself: “What was I trying to express with these movements?” If any of them were meaningless, cut the excess. Stay on point!
2. Speak clearly and slowly
People need time to process your words. Don’t run your sentences together. Let a second or two pass in between each one. Use this as an example how to measure them: "One one thousand… two one thousand…" However, really emphasize every syllable. It might not hurt to exaggerate that emphasis as you practice. Don’t be afraid of sounding ridiculous. You can tone it down before your real speech.
For bonus points, find a large room. Ask a friend to stand as far away as possible. Begin to speak. Ask your friend to shout: “Volume!” when they can’t hear you. Also ask them to yell: “Diction!” when they can’t understand you. Real-time feedback will accelerate your growth as a speaker.
3. Focus on a core message
You go to a presentation at a college. The speaker analyzes the major events in American history in under an hour. That sounds amusing, but would you retain anything? Unlikely. It would be better to concentrate on one historical event or one historical era. Cramming all of US history in one speech would be difficult. I don’t see how there could even be a core message. Write an elevator pitch based on your public speech. You should be able to capture the essence of your speech in a tweet-sized sentence.
Your speech will be more focused after this exercise. Find ways to remind your audience of the core message. They’ll be amazed by your clarity.
4. Get straight to the point
A speaker walks on stage. They awkwardly fumble with the equipment and complain about how technology can be difficult. Or they start thanking people before you even know who they are. What a disaster. The audience is already bored before the speech started!
Don’t let that happen. Open with a strong statement. It should make people think or reconsider a preconceived notion. Pause for a few seconds while they digest that information. On a related note, silence is your friend. Don’t believe me? Go watch a theatrical performance. Or just watch a film. Pay close attention to the actors. Are they talking at all times? I doubt it. They’ll probably pause during key moments. Borrow the same tactic. It’s a highly effective one.
5. Practice, practice, practice
Theory is useless without implementation. You could study these public speaking tricks for hours. It wouldn’t matter. My words won’t meld into your brain. That requires work. An awful lot of it!
Broadway plays aren’t in Tony-award winning shape on day #1 of their rehearsals. Actors have to learn their lines and stage directions. The director provides notes every day for months. Opening night might look like a roaring success. That wasn’t an accident. It was a direct result of the process.
Public speaking works the same way. You’ve seen some superb TED Talks. You may have thought: “How the heck did they get so good?” Spoiler alert: they weren’t born that way. They practiced until they became that way. With dedication, you can achieve the same thing. Prove me wrong. (Yes, that’s a dare.)
Related: Five Tips For Presenting With Power