Five public speaking tips
Most people would rather be trampled by humans than talk in front of them. If that describes you, here are some public speaking tips to help make public speaking less daunting.
Before I start, I should stress that the only toastmastering I’ve done involves Vegemite™. So whether you’re a professional or an amateur, please share your public speaking tips at the bottom of this article, because you’ll be helping a lot of people!
1. Prepare and practice
Whether you’re using visual aids or not, prepare the content of your talk thoroughly and then practice like crazy. No matter how nervous you are, if you’re fully prepared you’re likely to do a great job.
2. Visualise your audience (but learn from my disaster)
About ten years ago I was asked to give a talk in front of a large group of people. I hadn’t done a lot of speaking in the years prior to this, so I practiced like a mad woman. My son was five months old at the time, and he’d gurgle with delight as I practiced my speech in front of him every day.
One problem, and it was a big one. I hadn’t visualised my audience correctly, so on the night of the talk when I stood at the podium, I just froze.
You see, I had practiced my speech to a baby, and I was totally thrown when I saw a bunch of adults staring up at me, none of them dribbling.
"As solo business owners, public speaking can be frighteningly beneficial!"
Nowadays I picture the faces of my audience very clearly, and what’s more I visualise them smiling at me, nodding in agreement with my wisdom and laughing heartily at my jokes!
Want more articles like this? Check out the presentation skills section.
3. Be yourself
While it’s great to learn from professionals, always stay true to the essence of your personality. If you’re a naturally serious person, then cracking jokes might sound forced and may not get the desired response.
Be yourself and people will be receptive to what you have to say.
It’s the body’s natural response to take fast, shallow breaths when you’re nervous. Relax yourself by breathing deeply and slowly into your abdomen.
I once read that the Australian author and television presenter Jackie French used to make mooing sounds before speaking in public. (I’m figuring she’d moo privately to herself, rather than in front of the audience?)
It might sound funny, but it must have been a great way for Jackie to regulate each breath.
5. Do it more
Easier said than done, but the only way to get better at public speaking is to do it as often as possible. If you’ve never done any public speaking before, then start with the mirror, graduate to small groups and keep building up to bigger and bigger audiences if you so desire. Yes, it might be scary, but with practice its possible to turn your fear into confidence!
As solo business owners, public speaking can be frighteningly beneficial! Would you agree or disagree? And do you have any public speaking tips of your own?