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Did you know it takes 7 seconds for someone to make their first impression of you? Seems scary. Well, here’s the good news! You can take charge of your first impression; good public speaking skills can help you.
We use public speaking in almost every aspect of life, yet most people have stage fright. So in this blog, let’s dive deep to understand how you can improve your public speaking skills to shine and make an impact. We’ve carefully divided this article into 10 steps with which you can master the art of public speaking:
So, let’s get started and learn the secrets that transform your public speaking engagement skills.
Step 1: Define Your Purpose & Audience
The first step in speech preparation is understanding your audience. Here’s a concise breakdown of the key points:
Figure out demographics: Using surveys, analytics, and research, gather demographic information to modify your language, examples, and references appropriately to make a direct connection.
Find interest & expectations: Consider the audience’s interests and expectations when delivering a speech. This gives a good impression of you as a public speaker helping you gain confidence.
Understand the context setting: Adjust your sentence structure based on the context and formality of the setting.
Once you know your audience, the next step is to start researching the topic you are preparing for.
Step 2: Conduct Research & Gather Information
Before you start preparing your speech, take the time to thoroughly research your topic. Here are some steps to guide you:
Clarify your end goal: Identify your speech’s key takeaways and focus on guiding your research and delivering a more focused presentation.
Be a giver: Determine the valuable information you want to provide to your audience and focus on being an informative speaker.
Provide new information: Engage your audience by incorporating factual evidence, captivating facts, real-life stories, and expert quotes to add credibility and intrigue to your content.
Double-check sources: Ensure the accuracy and reliability of your sources by cross-referencing information and verifying the credibility of contributors. Use the most recent information for topics that evolve over time.
The next step is to start writing your speech; firstly, you must understand how to structure it.
Step 3: Outline Your Speech
A well-structured outline acts as a road map for your presentation, guiding you through the essential topics and guaranteeing a smooth flow of ideas.
Create an outline: Make a list of important points or ideas that support your goal and arrange them logically. To organise your thoughts, use a mind map or a similar technique. To highlight your key ideas and make your speech unique, use examples, proof & statistics.
Allocate time wisely: Consider the time available for your speech and assign sufficient time to each main topic and subpoint. This ensures a balanced delivery, allows you to complete everything within the timeframe specified and saves you from any public speaking anxiety.
It’s time to hook your audience from the start by writing a grand opening.
Step 4: Start With A Captivating Hook
In this step, we’ll look at the art of starting with a captivating hook and offer tips on how to make the introduction of your speaking event stand out.
Introduce with impact: Begin with a firm quote, an engaging question, or an intriguing story related to your topic. A strong introduction captures the attention, demonstrates the topic’s importance, establishes credibility, and generates curiosity.
Connect the hook with the speech: Smoothly transition from the attention-grabbing opener to the significant body of your speech. Declare your speech’s-communicate purpose and introduce the main points you’ll discuss. Give the audience a brief outline of what they may expect from your presentation.
At this point in the blog, we must tell you it is okay to make mistakes while presenting. You can easily get over the fear of public speaking. Several seasoned public speakers have made errors. Here’s an instance:
The essential thing is that Steve Harvey is considered one of the best talk-show hosts and still hosts many prestigious events.
Now it’s time to ensure your body language aligns with your exciting introduction.
Step 5: Use Effective Body Language & Delivery
In this step, we will explore the power of body language and provide techniques to help you project confidence, connect with your audience, and deliver your message with impact on stage.
Effective Body Language: Body language, eye contact, facial expressions, and hand gestures are essential for audience engagement and message delivery. You can learn this from the best speakers. For instance, to express excitement, use contextual gestures, and for confidence, maintain a straight posture and controlled movements.
Improve Voice Modulation: Improve your speech by using vocal methods. Change your pitch to communicate emotions and highlight important topics. Vary your pace to maintain focus and clarity. Take deep breaths to incorporate purposeful pauses for maximum impact.
Now that you know how to use effective body language and delivery, it’s time to take the presentation to the next level using stories and visuals.
Step 6: Tell Stories & Use Visuals
You can create a dynamic narrative that resonates with your audience and increases their knowledge by adding compelling stories and appealing visuals.
Captivate attention with storytelling:
Stories uniquely get people’s attention, make them feel something, and make knowledge more real. Here’s how to make a story that people want to listen to using Hero’s Journey:
Call to adventure – The audience’s attention may be divided or distracted at the start of a speech. Therefore, craft opening statements that pique the curiosity of the audience. These statements should be thought-provoking, surprising, or compelling.
Example: “Imagine a time when you faced your greatest fear. A moment that defined who you are today. That’s the journey we’re about to embark on together.”
Crossing the threshold – Each speech’s main point should represent a significant challenge or obstacle that the hero (audience) encounters on their journey. These challenges can be personal, professional, or related to your topic. Share stories, examples, and evidence to engage the audience.
Example: Share your personal story, anecdotes or stories of others who have overcome similar challenges, illustrating the journey of growth and transformation.
Road of trials – Highlighting the significance of supporting evidence, examples, and anecdotes in a speech helps strengthen the speaker’s arguments and engages the audience emotionally. It validates the ideas presented and helps persuade the audience of their validity.
Example: Share statistics, research findings, or real-life examples that support the main points and create a connection with the audience’s emotions.
Ultimate boon – Highlight the transformative aspect of the hero’s journey and draw parallels to the desired transformation or change the speaker wants the audience to embrace.
Show how the hero overcame obstacles, gained new perspectives, and evolved throughout their journey.
Example: “The ultimate boon is the realisation that facing our fears can lead to personal growth and empowerment. Embrace your challenges, and you’ll discover the hero within.”
Return with the elixir – The conclusion is the final opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the audience. Recap the main message or takeaway of the speech concisely and compellingly. Remind the audience of the key points discussed throughout the speech to reinforce their understanding and retention.
Example: Share a powerful closing story or call to action that motivates and empowers the audience to make a change.
Use visual aids and technology:
Visual aids enhance understanding and retention. After three days, 60% remember visual content compared to 10% for oral presentations. Use these tips:
Select the appropriate visual aid: Choose visuals that complement your speech, such as slides, charts, graphs, images, or videos.
Keep it simple: Avoid overloading the audience with information. Use bullet points, relevant pictures, and short sentences.
Practice with technology: To avoid technical difficulties during your speech, familiarise yourself with the equipment beforehand.
As you tell interesting stories and use compelling images, it’s just as important to say what you mean clearly and concisely.
Step 7: Communicate Clearly & Concisely
In this step, we’ll learn the art of clear and concise communication. We’ll look at ways to break down complicated ideas, organise your speech so it’s easy to understand and use powerful language that resonates with your audience.
Use simple language: Tailor your language to your audience and avoid too much jargon or acronyms that must be explained. This makes sure that everyone gets your point and stops any confusion.
Keep sentences short: Use short, to-the-point phrases to communicate your point. Use words that are easy to understand or that are shorter.
Make a smooth flow: Use transitional words or sentences to move quickly from one central point to the next. This helps your speech stay on track and makes it easier for thoughts to flow from one to the next.
Now that we know how to communicate clearly and concisely, it’s time to consider keeping the audience interested.
Step 8: Get Audience’s Attention
Using the following techniques, you can engage your audience, get them interested, and keep their attention for the whole presentation or speech.
Ask open-ended questions: Ask open-ended questions and guide group discussions to get the audience members involved. This gets people involved and allows them to share their thoughts and ideas.
Ponder with rhetorical questions: Thought-provoking questions make the general public think and feel part of the conversation. These questions get people thinking and push them to use their minds.
Use Call-and-response: Get the audience involved. You ask a question or make a statement, and the audience replies as a group. This exchange makes the atmosphere lively and keeps the audience’s attention.
As you learn how to keep your audience’s attention, you should be ready to deal with problems and surprises that may come up during your presentation.
Step 9: Handle Challenges & Unexpected Situations
Keep your cool, and remember that people are more likely to follow you if you are calm. People will trust and respect you when they see how well you deal with surprises.
Maintain a positive attitude: Keep a good attitude and look at setbacks as chances to learn and grow. A good attitude about problems helps you stay strong and confidently solve them.
Prepare for technical issues: Learn about the equipment and devices you will use in the presentation. In case the equipment crashes, you should practise having backup slides or being able to tell your story without using visual tools.
Plan for interruptions: Anticipate possible interruptions or disruptions during your speech. Practice getting the audience’s attention back and getting back on track if you get interrupted or distracted.
Now that you’ve handled challenges and surprises well, you must end your presentation with a bang.
Step 10: Conclude with Impact
Using these tips, you’ll be able to handle unexpected scenarios, manage your time and social anxiety well, and keep your confidence up when speaking in public.
Write a compelling conclusion: Finish your speech with a powerful and memorable statement that captures your primary idea and should be related to the theme and goal of your speech.
Reiterate essential points: Summarise the most significant parts of your speech to help your audience retain critical information.
Include a call to action: Incorporate a call to action to increase audience engagement, such as subscribing to a newsletter, volunteering, or completing additional studies on the subject. A call to action encourages the audience to participate once the speech ends.
As you come to the end of your speech, giving yourself the resources and tools you need to improve your public speaking skills is essential.
Resources & Tools For Public Speaking
Let’s talk about suggested books for public speaking classes or courses, a great way to improve your public speaking skills.
When it comes to improving your public speaking skills, there are some fantastic resources. Check out TED Talks by Chris Anderson. They are full of insights and offer great tips for public speaking and on captivating an audience. And you’re looking for classic guides. In that case, you can’t go wrong with “The Art of Public Speaking” and “How to Develop Self-Confidence & Influence People By Public Speaking” by Dale Carnegie. They are packed with practical advice on connecting with your audience.
Online courses and workshops provide convenient and comprehensive training options to improve public speaking skills. Public speaking classes provide guidance, practice exercises, and feedback to help you become a more confident and effective, better public speaker yourself.
In conclusion, improving your public speaking skills is valuable in your personal and professional life. People can improve their confidence and performance by preparing thoroughly, practising often, and asking for feedback. Remember that public speaking is a skill that can be improved with time and hard work. You can become a skilled and best public speaker if you practise often and are ready to step out of your comfort zone.