You see them at podiums in the workplace and on television. They make you laugh, cry and think. They dispense information that you may find valuable and useful. Then, all of a sudden, your boss is in your office, asking you to present the results of your latest marketing campaign or teach a class on the new technology that your office is implementing. As you are sitting at your desk, you can feel the sweat coming, and your palms become clammy.
What is it about public speaking that makes so many of us shiver with trepidation? Getting over your fear of standing in front of a roomful of people is the first step in effective public speaking. And the best way to overcome that fear is to learn some techniques in effective public speaking that will give you the confidence to approach that podium with style.
Are you Talking to Me?
The first step in effective public speaking is to know your audience. You want to tailor your speech to the needs of the people you are speaking to by evaluating the age, interests and experience level of your crowd. This will help you to know what type of vocabulary to use, if you are safe to throw out technical terminology and whether or not to use industry jargon.
Once you have a good idea of who you are talking to, you want to find a way to grab the attention of your audience in the first few minutes of your speech. This can be done through the use of a personal anecdote, a remarkable fact or statistic, or by asking a question.
You can also open your speech with humor, but make sure that you are comfortable with joke telling before you attempt this approach. Once you have the undivided attention of your audience, you are on your way to effective public speaking.
Organization is the next step to effective public speaking, and is primarily accomplished before you ever set foot on the stage. As you plan out the main points of what you want to convey in your speech, keep the number of these to three at the most. Under those three main headings, select three or four pieces of support for your points, which may include testimonials, facts and statistics or visual aids.
Make up notes for yourself that will either include a formal outline of all of the topics that you want to cover or some sort of diagram that will help you remember everything that you want to say. Most public speakers find that putting this information onto note cards will offer the greatest assistance when you are standing in front of the crowd.
Another important factor to consider in effective public speaking is how to personalize your speech to make it more interesting to your audience. This can be done through the use of personal anecdotes, whether your own or someone else’s (with permission, of course!). By telling a brief story or two, you bring the information home to your audience, which is a key in effective public speaking.
You can also include audience participation in your speech to help personalize the information. The most common use of this tool is by asking your audience questions and asking for a raise of hands as a response. Including your audience in your speech is another key to effective public speaking.
It is also a good idea to use visual aids that can run the gamut from a dry erase board to a power point presentation. Make sure that any technical equipment that you use for your speech is tested thoroughly beforehand, so that you don’t have to worry about glitches when you are on stage.
You will also want to make sure that your visual aids are easy to see, and even simpler to understand. Otherwise, you will only serve to confuse your audience, instead of effectively illustrating your key points. If your room is going to be large, handouts can also provide a handy visual for effective public speaking.
Finally, end your speech on a positive, thoughtful note. Effective public speaking is all about engaging your audience and leaving them with information to chew on. If you can successfully get your crowd to think, you have done your job well.
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