Let’s imagine that you have a very important task ahead of you – making a presentation the success of which may have a life-changing effect on your life. One thing is clear: it should be a spellbinding and articulate speech. But how can you prepare and deliver it with flying colors? Best speech tips from our experts:
“Prior preparation prevents poor performance” (James Baker). Once you’ve put so much blood, sweat, and tears into the content of your presentation, it seems totally unfair to fail to deliver it with dignity. It’s crucial to remember that the rehearsal on the day of the delivery is as important as the preparation itself. In fact, it’s highly recommended to flick through the content once again in the room where it’s going to be delivered. Moreover, if you have PowerPoint slides, it’s necessary to check if the device is compatible with the format of the information. Not only will it help to eliminate small technical glitches but also to make necessary last-minute corrections in case of need. What’s more, make sure you switch off the screen saver to get rid of unnecessary notifications.
As simple as it sounds, practice does make perfect. Bear in mind though that giving a speech in front of a mirror doesn’t translate into delivering a presentation in front of a real demanding audience. That is why training to present your thoughts and ideas for even friendly small audiences will never go amiss. By doing so, you can get accustomed to speaking confidently in public and sharpen your oratory skills.
Making a speech is, without a shadow of a doubt, a rather stressful experience. Your body releases such hormones as adrenaline and cortisol as if you’re in for a battle and switches into a fight or flight mode. Your shoulders become stiff, speech tempo speeds up (continue reading to find out about this problem), and you start to sweat heavily. In spite of this, don’t dread the prospect of having all these symptoms at once as there are surefire ways to curb the negative effects of stress:
Even though you could have heard from some orators that it’s absolutely a must to present as many facts and details as possible, it is quite the opposite in reality. People won’t be able to take in your speech at all if you start to rattle on without paying too much attention to their reaction. Apart from that, accelerated speaking is a telltale sign of nervousness. Go online and check how gurus of presentations speak and take notice of the way they pause and stress the most important pieces of information. Don’t disdain to apply a less-is-more approach as it will enormously benefit the upshot of your performance. In addition to that, your brain will have more “CPU time” to predict the questions or clarify particular details if necessary.
A mundane long-winded presentation is an unmitigated disaster for both the audience and event organizers. A skillful speaker must clearly demonstrate that he or she is in full control of the situation: if there are some complicated points, it’s better to dedicate more attention to them rather than recapping on pretty straightforward issues. In case you do overrun, think which parts you can omit without losing the gist. It’s totally okay to finish slightly earlier than expected as it gives more time for questions and answers.
It’s undoubtedly easier to pick out one particular person to stare at, but you absolutely need to step out of your comfort zone and try to build rapport with the majority of people present. If instead of gazing into space you opt to look into people’s eyes, it’ll demonstrate that you’re quite confident, conversant with the topic at hand, and interested to gauge their reaction.
It’s highly unlikely that individuals come to various events to listen to the lectures. Remember that you’re an orator in the first place, definitely not the lecturer. A person with his/her back turned to the audience reading from the slides all the time demonstrates a laid-back approach to work. Moreover, viewers lose their interest in the subject if an orator doesn’t demonstrate his/her profound knowledge and ability to interact with the audience. Of course, there’s nothing wrong to resort to the slides on some occasions, but it shouldn’t be a major source of information.
However obvious it seems, making the most of articulatory powers of your voice and applying it properly is the key to success in delivering public speeches. A person who speaks in a monotonous, hardly audible voice will never make a favorable long-lasting impression. Train to project your voice so that it holds the audience’s attention from the outset till the very ending of the presentation and reap the benefits of your tenacity. Make sure not to scream, check the sound with the microphone or similar amplification devices, and ask people at the back if they can hear you properly.
It goes without saying that body language is an extremely powerful means of getting a message across. Don’t fall into a trap of believing that only spellbinding orators can perfectly use their gestures. Many politicians, celebrities, and other people in the public eye frequently demonstrate artificial behaviors and stilted speech patterns. Actually, this recommendation is another case of “be yourself” as natural facial expressions and gestures work wonders sometimes. They accentuate the facts mentioned by a speaker and indicate the degree to which he or she can relate to that. There’s no need to go to pieces if you have a more reserved personality type because you can always employ some verbal means like intonation and speech tempo that would work better for you. What’s more, you can implement some jokes and pithy remarks into your speech to make it more cognitive and coherent.
Be careful though not to overdo with the questions that require a knowledge of sophisticated details, only check the general understanding of the subject matter. Engaging your audience into the presentation is a reliable means of demonstrating your fluency and an excellent grasp of the topic. More often than not, it’s paramount when it comes to giving effective presentations. Keep an eye on the time limit and answer people’s questions with pleasure. All in all, a heated debate over your presentation will prove that you’ve done a marvelous job and managed to arouse people’s curiosity. Liven up the presentation with group questions, but don’t get carried away and always stay in control of the situation.
Not only will it enable the audience to remember the content of your speech better but also to build trust. Definitely include such essentials as the title of the presentation, its date and time, and most importantly your contact details. Make sure to inform people at the beginning of your performance that you’ll provide them with a PowerPoint presentation, so there’s no point in taking voluminous notes. However, share the slides only after the presentation or you’ll lose precious attention and spoil the show.
Perfect interaction with the audience implies asking questions, answering those in no time (unless they’ll be covered later on), and asking for feedback from the viewers. Avoid a patronizing attitude when you explain the facts that are obvious or clarify some points in a rather reprimanding manner. Be open to suggestions and friendly, so people would feel it and like your speech even if its topic doesn’t particularly resonate with you.
At the end of the day, keep in mind that the ultimate goal of delivering any speech is to enjoy it. Do your utmost to train it to perfection, take care of some technical issues, use the abovementioned tricks to build rapport with the audience, and rest on your laurels after your undoubtedly superlative performance. Good luck!