In this article I am going to outline an action plan that will help you skyrocket your public speaking skills.
Have you ever analyzed how your favorite public speakers concisely and powerfully deliver their points, how they hold themselves, control their tone and present their message?
You may think that they have a natural gift, but this is much more often the product of many years of practice and deliberate improvement to their performances.
1) Analyze Your Public Speaking:
Record yourself when rehearsing or delivering the speech, preferably using video.
What are the main areas of improvement that stand out to you?
Ask yourself this question for each of the following 5 points below.
Body Language – Your body language communicates a lot more to your audience than you might think. It also shows how you feel and your pinpoints your comfort level with the audience. Negative or closed body language can dull or really undermine a good speech, and can challenge your credibility as an expert in some cases. Check out this article by Gary Genard here about improving your body language while speaking.
Pause: Are you moving too quickly throughout your points? Deliberate pauses throughout your speech can really give your audience time to absorb your message. It also gives you time to think about your next points. Watch videos of some experienced public speakers. You will generally find that they use pauses very effectively to add impact to important points.
Speech tone and speed: Audiences get quickly bored, and one sure way to speed up this process is to speak in the same tone throughout your speech. Very your pitch to add a flair of the dramatic, and to help illustrate or highlight really important points of your speech.
Note: Many people greatly dislike the sound of their own voice. It’s quite normal, find out why here in an article by Kate Goldbaum.
Use of notes: Speaking without notes can seem like a daunting prospect, especially if you have a lack of confidence in your memory. However, if you take up the challenge, you come across as more natural, confident, sincere, and credible. It allows you to better connect with your audience, and focus on your message, body language, and eye contact. Check out our free course which teaches you how to memorize the key points of your speeches and free you from you notes!
Hesitations: A speech filled with ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’ can greatly diminish the delivery of your speech. Listen over your speech recordings and try to pin-point the most frequent parts of your speeches that you are likely to make these hesitations. If you are like me when I started speaking, the answer would be ‘every part of the speech’. After I joined my local public speaking club, I made a goal of trying to eliminate as much of these as possible. Surprisingly my speeches were almost completely free of them by my third speech.
Make it a goal, try to rehearse your speech as much as possible. When you feel like saying these ‘crutch words’, try to pause instead, which can actually add presence to your speech.
2) Seek Feedback From Others
After you have you analyzed your own speeches, try to ask a friend or colleague with more experience in speaking to try to pinpoint areas for improvement that might be in your ‘blind spot’. You could even take the plunge and join a local public speaking club, where you can get constructive and supportive feedback from more experienced speakers.
3) Make an Action Plan and Commit to Your Goals
Improving your public speaking can be a long journey that requires commitment and courage. Write out a list of your speaking goals after analyzing areas you need to work on. Break them up into manageable chunks and milestones to make them more manageable. To set goals, make them SMART (smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timed). Come back to your goals regularly to ensure that you are on target.
A goal could be as simple as “Introduce myself to a group” or “deliver a 2 minute speech”. It could also be as advanced as “deliver an hour long technical presentation without side notes”. Make sure to add a personal deadline for these goals, and try to think of all opportunities where you could achieve them.
4) Get as Much Public Speaking Practice as Possible
You need to start speaking on front of people in order to improve. Get yourself out there and try to find as many opportunities to speak and present as possible. You can volunteer to do extra presentations at work, start contributing more to meetings, or join a public speaking club. This may feel like a daunting challenge at first, but after a while speaking can become an enjoyable experience. Anxiety and fear is a common issue that holds many people back from improving their skills. Check out this page by David Carbonell which can help you overcome this.
5) Reflect on Your Progress and Seek Feedback Again
After you have delivered speeches and presentations. Try to make as many points about what went right and what went wrong. Be proud of your achievement and try to learn from your mistakes instead of feeling bad about them. If you can, try to continually seek the feedback of others, thought take it with a ‘pinch of salt’ if necessary.
Have you found this article helpful? What are your main goals to improve your public speaking? Leave a comment below!