Not all of us are born with great speaking skills. I was a shy and unassuming kid myself. However, the demands of modern life are such that you can hardly escape the responsibility of talking to people publicly. The prospect probably terrifies some of you, but it doesn’t have to. Here are a couple of simple speaking tips you can use to become more confident.
Many speakers, especially those who have little experience, tend to speed up on stage to the point where it’s next to impossible to understand them. It’s like they want the ordeal to be over as soon as possible.
If you want people to truly grasp what you’re saying, you need to slow down. It may feel very uncomfortable at first, but remember – artists who record audiobooks usually speak at a 150—words-per-minute pace. Also, don’t ever underestimate the usefulness of pauses when you’re trying to make a point.
If you look at famously great speakers like Steve Jobs and Hillary Clinton, you’ll notice that they are constantly moving around the stage and using body language to support their points. However, the same movements that benefit you when they are intentional can hurt if they are merely nervous tics. Common tics include such things as pacing, touching hair and face, tapping, and generally fidgeting. I don’t, by any means, recommend freezing up on stage, but be mindful of what you do.
When you are speaking to a crowd, you need to communicate with them, not just say things to them. This is why eye contact is so important. There are several tricks to maintaining eye contact. One of them is to choose a point just above the back row. It should not be too high above the people occupying it, because you’ll seem a little vacant. Another option is to slowly but constantly move your gaze, focusing on different groups of people.
Even the best of speakers can’t perform a speech they’ve just been handed well. They’ll need to practice and rehearse until they are comfortable enough with the words on their prompters. If you are not confident in yourself as a speaker, at least have confidence in your material. If you need to, write down some bullet points that will prompt you to remember what you’re supposed to be talking about and avoid awkward moments.
Many YouTube stars admit that they weren’t the best of speakers before seeing themselves on a screen. That allowed them to improve and tweak their performances. You can do this too! This will allow you to see all your mistakes and fix them without consulting anyone else or admitting your insecurities.
All these tips should help you to improve as a public speaker. Just remember not to be too hard on yourself. No one is perfect, so the only thing you can do is your best.