If you’ve been tasked with giving a speech, you probably want to make an impact. You want the audience to remember what you said and leave feeling educated or inspired. Unfortunately, if you don’t have the skills necessary to deliver a moving speech, your efforts will fall flat. Whether you have a speech coming up soon or you just want to be prepared for the future, here are five of the skills you need.
- Using Visual Aids Well
Visuals can really help to drive home key points of your speech and illustrate complex ideas in a simple form. However, you need to use them properly and sparingly. Make sure anything you’re projecting on a screen is large enough to be seen by everyone in the room. Ensure you use presentation software which allows you to create attractive slides since no one wants to look at a large block of text. Remember to look at the audience when you’re speaking and don’t back your audience to read the screen.
- Using Body Language Effectively
Your audience will be listening to you, but they will also be watching you. Your body language will convey how you feel inside so you may appear nervous or unsure of yourself. To combat this, make sure you stand up straight, control your breathing and look audience members in the eye. Gesture in ways that feel natural to you. If you try to act like someone else, the audience won’t connect with you. You should also avoid speaking from behind a podium since this acts as a barrier between you and the crowd. Also, moving around actually helps you to bring more energy and passion to your voice.
- Engaging with Your Audience
You’ll be the centre of attention but that doesn’t mean you have to be the only one speaking. Encourage audience participation by allowing for questions or asking for a show of hands. This keeps the audience alert and fosters interaction. Even if you have written notes, avoid reading word for word. Use your notes to guide you but be sure to include anecdotes and real-life examples. If there’s something in the news that’s relevant, make reference to it to keep things current.
- Coping with Nerves
How often have you seen a speech that went really, really bad? Chances are it hasn’t happened often. Some speakers may be boring or unconvincing but rarely does anything catastrophic happen. Yet when you think about your speech, you may be convinced you will be paralyzed with fear, you’ll fall or you’ll be so bad you’ll lose your job. That’s just in your mind and it’ll make you even more nervous. Instead of thinking about yourself, focus on your audience and what they need to hear from you. When you get on stage, imagine you’re talking to just one person and you’ll feel more relaxed.
- Becoming a Storyteller
Even if your speech is billed as a lecture or it involves numbers, find a way to tell a story. Depending on the subject matter, you may not be able to make the whole presentation a story but try to include anecdotes. Relate an exchange you’ve had or share a relevant lesson you’ve learned. Your story can be funny, inspirational or even a little embarrassing. The aim is to keep your audience engaged and make them feel something.
Public speaking can be scary but if you take the time to prepare well and practice, you can improve your chances of delivering a memorable speech. Use the tips above to help you and try recording your speeches and watching them if you really want to improve.
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