Did you know that many people fear public speaking more than death? It’s true! As many students around the nation are diligently working on their kindness speeches for our National Kindness Speech Contest, I thought I would share with you some of my secrets.
It takes time, exposure and practice to become well versed in something new, and public speaking is certainly no different.
At some point in your life, you will have to give a speech and being a confident speaker is a very good skill to have in your bag of tricks.
Being nervous is normal, even Madonna, a seasoned performer, said she still gets butterflies before getting on stage, but it’s a matter of focusing once you are in front of an audience, and remembering why you are presenting in the first place. It’s always about your audience and serving them at your very best.
Here are my top 8 tips for delivering a successful speech:
1. Know your topic
Knowing your topic inside out and back to front is absolutely critical to giving a confident, successful presentation. As they say, knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more empowered you will feel. Research the topic/subject and ensure you are familiar with and understand the content. Once you have researched the topic, create your presentation in a logical order to capture the audience’s attention and maintain it throughout. Giving presentations is about information exchange, not a rehearsed verbatim. Use conversational language, a little humor if relevant, and personal opinions, stories or experiences.
2. Know your audience
Knowing who will be listening to your presentation is very important, as you need to tailor it to the needs of the audience. Understanding the culture of those listening will help you choose appropriate language, monitor the inflections in your voice, control your body language and tailor your overall delivery.
3. Have an expert mindset
You have been asked to present on a topic and that makes you an expert. The fact that you know more about a particular topic and are informing others about it means you need to own it. Be confident in the fact that you have been asked to talk in front of an audience on a topic that you are familiar with. It is a great way to learn and develop a new skill.
Once your presentation is complete, you need to start practicing it aloud. Practice it over and over until it sounds right, and you are confident with the delivery. You can go the extra step and record yourself and review the presentation as an audience member. Refine and edit the presentation, as sometimes what seems good on paper does not translate well verbally. Refine and keep practicing until you feel like you have nailed it. This will boost your confidence tremendously.
5. Work the room
Knowing your audience and topic go hand-in-hand with working the room. Giving presentations is not only about the words spoken but the presence you have whilst presenting. It is always better to stand rather than sit. Make good eye contact with the audience and move around the room so that each section feels like you are intimately talking to them.
Remember to breathe when you are giving a presentation. Pause when you speak, let our audience digest what you are saying, and keep composed.
7. Do not read from notes
Reading from notes can insinuate a lack of confidence and/or knowledge on the topic of presentation. It may be acceptable to glance at notes throughout your presentation but be mindful not to read from them continuously.
8. Speak with conviction and confidence
Speaking with passion and conviction captures an audience. Believing in what you are saying is key to nailing a presentation. Confidence is gained through experience but conviction comes from believing in yourself and your story. Be true to yourself and speak to your audience in a manner that makes them want to listen.
At the conclusion of your presentation, thank your audience and answer any questions they may have. Learn from each experience, as some will go better than others. Soon you will find a method that works for you. Fine-tune it with each presentation and soon enough, public speaking will become second nature to you.
Remember practice makes perfect!
Written by Julie Kelly
Julie Kelly is first generation born Australian from European parents who immigrated from Egypt back in the 60’s. Throughout her life Julie felt like the square peg that never fit in the round hole, and endured many challenges in life such as losing her best-friend in High School to an accidental drug overdose, her parent’s divorce and surviving a terrible car accident caused by a drunk driver. Throughout her life, Julie always chose to rise above her struggles, and tried to find the Grace in every situation, living by the motto that everything happens FOR you, not to you.