As a psychologist who is also a professional speaker I am often asked by people how to gain in confidence so they can get up on stage and easily share their gifts and passions. What I have always found is that the way you talk reflects your personality and displays the amount of confidence you have in your message.
The power to efficiently communicate and persuade people can make all the difference between a boring speech that puts people to sleep and a powerful one that leaves a lasting impression. If your speech contains powerful content but is delivered poorly, you’ll miss out on an opportunity to impact the lives of your audience in a positive way.
Try these tips to turn your next presentation from a drab, boring affair to a dynamic, powerful presentation that your audience will remember for a long time to come:
1. Prepare thoroughly. Preparation is the key to a successful presentation. If you speak with authority, people will listen. The only way to speak with authority, however, is to know the material of your speech backwards and forwards. And believe what you are saying! If you are speaking from a place of authenticity, your audience will recognize it.
- Then, rehearse your speech many times. Practice in front of a mirror and in front of others. If you have an on-board camera on your computer or laptop, record yourself giving the speech and learn from it. Do this as many times as you need!
2. Move your body with confidence. If you’re slouched over and your hands are shaking, or worse yet, you are fiddling with your speech notes and not making eye contact, your audience will get the impression that you lack the knowledge that makes you worthy of listening to. Gesture confidently with your hands as you speak and use eye contact with your audience.
3. Try not to over-use notes. The more familiar you are with your speech’s content, the more interesting your speech becomes to your audience. Reading your speech is boring, but speaking from an outline of key points in a natural, conversational way draws your crowd in so they are encouraged to listen closely.
- If you’re passionate and knowledgeable about your subject, learn your speech well and deliver it without any notes. This will impress your audience and make your material more believable. It’ll make you look like you know what you’re talking about, and even more importantly, that you believe every word that you are imparting.
4. Dress to impress. If your dress is too casual or inappropriate in any way, your audience will quickly turn away and become bored. Ensure your clothes are as comfortable as possible, but just a little bit nicer than the occasion calls for.
5. Anticipate questions and answer them. What are the most frequently asked questions about your topic? When you present the material, what challenges can you imagine coming from your audience? Prepare for these objections and questions, and address them in the body of your speech.
6. Answer the most important questions. When people hear you speak, they’re really looking for you to answer only two questions. Answer those questions, and your speech will be remembered fondly for a long time to come.
- First, your audience wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” Answer that question in your speech. Simply ask yourself what the members of your audience will gain from applying the ideas you talk about or listening to your perspective.
- Second, they want to know, “Why should I care?” You may be passionate about the subject of your presentation, but you must communicate why the members of your audience should be just as passionate about your subject as you are.
Speaking in public is one of the biggest fears of our society. With solid preparation and wise choices on the day of your presentation, however, you can create a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of your audience.