How To Improve Your Public Speaking Skills (With Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 1 September 2022 | Published 21 July 2021
Updated 1 September 2022
Published 21 July 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Public speaking skills are essential for effective collaboration with colleagues and people in your professional circle. Being able to speak confidently in public can increase your ability to persuade others to support your initiatives and boost your career performance. To get the full benefits of this quality, equip yourself with public speaking skills and learn how to develop them. In this article, we discuss public speaking skills and outline strategies for improving them.
What are public speaking skills?
Public speaking skills are the abilities to address an audience effectively. It's the combination of a mastery of communication skills, body language, composure and confidence. The ability to stand before an audience, deliver a message and capture their attention can help you sell ideas to other people and get them to support you. This makes it essential as a professional to learn how to speak with confidence in public.
Examples of public speaking skills
Here are examples of public speaking skills:
To be an exceptional public speaker, the first step is to possess excellent communication skills. Work on having a good command of verbal and written communication. To create captivating speeches and presentations, you need excellent writing skills that allow you to craft engaging stories. Communicating effectively also requires using the right diction, pitch and tone to suit the mood and type of audience.
Seasoned communicators can pace their voices to meet the mood and energy of the audience. Doing this can help you capture and keep their attention. It can also help you get listeners to relate more deeply to your message and take the desired action.
Besides having a good mastery of the language of your speech, articulate your thoughts clearly and eloquently. Practise before delivering a speech or making a presentation to ensure that there are no filler words in your presentation. Being articulate means you don't repeat yourself, stumble, stutter or pause excessively during your presentation.
Effective public speakers are charismatic people who can captivate their audience and get them to pay attention to their speech. Being charismatic not only makes it easy to grab your audience's attention, but it can also make it easier to persuade them to act in your favour. To become more successful at public speaking, develop your charisma, so you can influence listeners.
Effective public speakers also display confidence. On many occasions, people who are comfortable speaking among friends and small groups of people suddenly lose their confidence when they speak in front of a large crowd of strangers. To be successful at public speaking, be comfortable delivering presentations before an audience of any size. You might need practice, but it often becomes easier with time.
Public speaking requires having exceptional physical stamina. Most times, you may find yourself making your presentation or delivering a speech while standing. If your presentation is lengthy, the physical strain can reduce the quality of your performance. When making a presentation, you might also move around the stage, gesticulate with your hands and even operate multimedia equipment. These require being fit to ensure that the audience enjoys your performance.
Good public speakers are adept at creatively putting together powerful presentations that engage the audience and help them connect with their speech. While you want your speech to be unique, it also needs to be rational, coherent and have a purpose the audience can relate to for it to have maximum impact. Humour, questions and other audience participation techniques can also help your audience enjoy your speech. Besides being creative, you can be tasked to speak for a length of time extemporaneously, in case something happens to your prepared presentation, and you need to improvise.
Whether you are delivering a presentation at a formal or informal gathering, most public speaking events often require using public address systems and multimedia devices such as projectors. This makes it important to know how to use the equipment for delivering your presentation. Learn how to connect your computer to a projector, how to create slides and how to use smart boards. Having these technical skills can ensure that you have a smooth presentation that can deliver value to the audience.
Read more: What Are Technical Skills?
8 tips to improve your public speaking skills
Here are eight tips to help you become a better public speaker:
1. Prepare for your presentation
An important factor in being an effective public speaker is adequate planning and preparation. Preparing well includes crafting a presentation that grabs the audience's attention throughout the duration of your speech. Your storyline, introduction and delivery need to intrigue and resonate with the audience. You also want to choose your attire carefully to make a good impression on the audience. Planning also involves getting your slides ready, arriving at the venue on time and preventing any last-minute incidents that can make you nervous.
2. Maintain your composure
Nervousness is one of the biggest issues for many people struggling with public speaking. Work on maintaining your composure before, during and after a public speaking event to ensure your presentation is smooth and enjoyable. When you are nervous, your voice may tremble and your heart may beat faster, and sometimes your face might even show fear.
Thankfully, you can learn to defeat these fears to improve your performance. This often requires doing that activity that triggers the fear, in this case, public speaking. Take every opportunity to speak publicly and focus on delivering a stellar performance to the audience, not on your fears of failure. With time, you can learn to control your emotions and keep calm while speaking before an audience.
3. Practise your speech
To become effective at public speaking, practise as much as possible. Whenever you have the chance to speak before a group of people, take it. Practising your public speaking skills can help you overcome nervousness and fear, two emotions that prevent many people from becoming top public speakers. Opportunities for public speaking can come in the form of training staff, asking and answering questions, moderating meetings and delivering keynote addresses at official and community events.
4. Know your audience
Speaking well in public requires understanding your audience and their preferred method of engagement. Some audiences require a formal and professional delivery with technical details and industry jargon. Meanwhile, some audiences connect with the speaker better when the speech contains humour in the form of jokes and the atmosphere is cordial. Study your audience before preparing your presentation so that your speech aligns with their expectations. During the presentation, mind your choice of language, nonverbal cues and other details that can increase the engagement and positive response of the people listening to you.
5. Pay attention to your body language
The way you move your body during a presentation can send a wide range of signals to the audience. For example, slouching, looking down and wringing your hands can be a sign of fear. Adopt a body posture that projects confidence to demonstrate to the audience your expertise. Stand up straight, smile and maintain eye contact with people. Walk around the stage and gesture to stay active and increase audience engagement. Most importantly, learn how to use your body to better engage the audience without distracting them.
6. Be interactive
To be an effective public speaker, try to make your presentations engaging and interactive. Ask questions and allow the audience to participate in the discussion. Not only does this make the activity more inclusive, interacting with the audience means you are not the focus of the presentation. While being interactive can improve your presentation, make sure you manage the audience to ensure there are no distractions, and you can still deliver the key points of your discussion.
7. Review your presentations
Watching yourself speak publicly can provide insights on areas for improvement to become a more refined public speaker. When possible, record audio and video versions of your speeches and presentations for review. That can show you lapses in your diction, vocabulary, body language and confidence levels. You can also see your reaction to questions, interruptions and other areas that can reduce the quality of your presentation, so you can avoid or find solutions for them in the future.
8. Be authentic
When speaking to an audience, you want to be authentic. People can often tell when a speaker is not being themselves, and this can leave them doubting your intentions and credibility. It's better to present your real self, talk naturally and adopt a comfortable posture that helps you relax and feel composed throughout your speech or presentation.
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