One of the best skills a person can learn is the art of effective speaking. Whether it be in school, or at a top-notch corporation, good speaking skills are essential to getting a message across to an audience – effectively. Needless to say, at any age or stage in life, speaking skills are not only necessary, but it is also beneficial. It is always great to listen to a good speaker, and quite disconcerting to have to listen and understand someone who is such a poor public speaker.
There are some tips, however, that will help hone the skills of anyone who wants to be one of the best public speakers. Here are some.
Remember all the critical factors for effective communication: Objective, Knowledge, and Emotion. These are the basic elements of proper speaking. First, you must have a clear objective in mind. Even is you are asked to speak extemporaneously, you must always have a general thought, and must never divert from this objective. Sure, you can segue now and then to crack a joke, or relay an anecdote, but they should be related in some way to your objective. Don’t veer too off from your initial point. Next, you must be knowledgeable on the subject. There is absolutely no point to speaking in front of people is you do not know what you’re talking about – you will only expose yourself to judgment and criticisms. Never give your audience any chance to doubt your statements. Research and gain as much knowledge on the subject matter. Lastly, inject emotion into your speech. Nobody wants to listen to a boring, non-animated speaker who almost sounds as though he has no knowledge of punctuation marks. Be lively – but not too over-zealous, because this makes you look insincere. Just strike a balance between “engaging” and “seeming expertise.”
Don’t be shy to say what you want to say. Speaking in public homes your self-confidence – it encourages you to come out of your shell. If you want to say something, for as long as it is truthful, based on facts, and does not offend others, then say it. Step out of the fear zone. Every good speaker started with the jitters, but after some time got used to it.
Be mindful of your body language. If you know, you have a facial tick, or tend to sway from side to side when nervous, then learn to get rid of them by standing in front of a mirror and try watching yourself speak. If you see something you don’t like, most probably, your potential audience will not like it too. Remember, the things you don’t like seeing in other speakers will be the very same things your audience will not want to see in you. Quit all the squinting and eyebrow raising, and all the things which you thought would seem “cute.” Stay in the safe zone and just act normal.
Adopt a format. If you want to take the question-followed-by answer format, then do so – it will make the entire speech more structured and well-thought of. Other formats include the “Story-Problem-Causes-Solutions format”, the “Call to Action format” and the “Tell Me format.” Whatever format you choose, stick to it from start to finish. Don’t babble on and on, and mindlessly tackle every thinkable related topic, with no obvious end in sight – you’re going to lose your audience quickly to slumber land.
Don’t forget the small things – grammar, diction, practice, and eye contact. The seemingly small things may turn off your entire audience. Practice your diction – it may be too difficult to comprehend…or worse, it may sound too funny, especially if you have a foreign accent. Also, be mindful of your grammar. If you don’t – you may very well find a few snickering people in the audience, and when you do, don’t point this out to them or ask them “what’s so funny” – because they might tell you the truth and you end up embarrassing yourself. Practice is the key to anything well done. No person can do a 100% excellent job without any form of practice. Lastly, maintain eye contact – this draws in a sleepy person in the audience, and forces him to stay wide awake. This also makes the audience feel that you are personalizing your speech, and not acting as though you’re a robot speaking to a group of androids.