10 tips to improve your public speaking skills

The idea of addressing a crowd is terrifying to many people. But we’re here to help you overcome your fears and step up your public speaking game.

1. Know your audience. Identify the type of audience you’re addressing in order to customize your message accordingly. Adapt your lexicon and style of delivery to your listeners as this will bring you closer to them.

2. Do not be on time, be ahead of it. Familiarize yourself with the setting prior to delivering a presentation/speech. Coming in early not only allows you to make sense of the space but also helps you relax and get ready. No rush!

3. Condense and categorize. You cannot expect people to understand what you’re talking about if you yourself do not understand what you’re talking about. Filter down your cluster of information to a one-page outline you can easily navigate. Divide your material into clear, understandable and compatible parts to maintain a good flow.

4. Stop nagging. Constant nagging about your public speaking deficiencies and/or lack of preparation time can only make things worse for you. Eliminate negative self-talk and focus on achieving your public speaking goals instead.

5. Befriend your mirror. Rehearsing in front of the mirror helps you get a sense of your flow as a speaker and pinpoint existing weaknesses. It is also an effective way to keep track of your progress and fine-tune your overall performance.

6. Master the material. Think of it this way: you should be able to visualize whatever it is you’re talking about inside your head in the right order before spilling it out to people.  

7. Find your style and stick to it. Do not just watch a TED talk and mimic it. You need to incorporate something of your own identity every time you address a crowd in order to stand out and truly make an impact. Fashion-wise, make sure what you’re wearing reflects your personal style without nevertheless being shockingly extravagant.

8. Learn to appreciate silence. Public speaking is not about how many words you can squeeze into a given amount of time but rather has to do with conveying a message clearly and efficiently. Learn to breathe and throw in a few pauses where appropriate.

9. Articulate and project. Proper pronunciation and an adequate tone of voice are indispensable attributes for a successful public speaker. Improve your articulation by reading texts out loud and stress important words/concepts to avoid monotony.

10. Fear nothing. Once ready, all you have to do is go out there and enjoy yourself. Your listeners are not an angry army of enemies waiting to be unleashed at you, there’s absolutely nothing to be scared of!

Cover photo credit: Startupist.com