No matter what your inspiration or motivation, you need to have a plan to get ahead and reach the pinnacle of your field. Successful people always plan their route – they have a goal and a single-minded purpose to reach that goal. But if you’re to be successful in any field, you will also need to be able to speak in public.
There will be many times when you need to portray your point accurately, present data or even inspire others – if you follow these tips, you’ll be well on the way to becoming a sought-after public speaker
Find an interesting subject and stick to it
The most important point about public speaking is that you talk about something that you care about. You should feel passionate about your subject – ideally, you should want to share your ideas and inspire others. This passion will shine out in your speech. Stick to information you know really well and avoid making assumptions.
The business environment can be cut-throat, and a single mistake can distract your audience. Focus on things in which you’re expert – if you don’t know the answer to a question don’t panic. Admit you don’t know and seek help to resolve it by inviting your listeners to pitch in.
Before you give any public presentation, plan what you want to say. Start with your objective and define the message you want to get across to your audience. You then need to decide who your audience is, and what’s the best method to communicate with them. This must be at a level they’ll understand and in a way they’ll relate to. You can then create an outline of your speech by making a list of the relevant points you want to focus on.
The best way to get better at anything is to practise it. To do this, you can start by videoing yourself and replaying the speech. You will be able to pick up on any body language or mannerisms, which are distracting, and find any awkward moments you need to refine. You can then graduate to practising in front of a few friends, family or perhaps best colleagues, and asking them for honest feedback.
Keep your nerves under control
Even the best public speakers have nerves. However, knowing your subject and practicing it goes a long way toward calming these nerves. You should also familiarise yourself with the place where you’re speaking, and try breathing exercises before you start. And you must remember that if you do make a mistake, just move on – the audience may not notice and if they do they’ll just see you as human, which will make it easier to relate to you and your message.
Another common trick is to start by telling a short, relevant story, which involves you and the subject matter. Ideally, it should be possible for your audience to relate to you, personally, in the story, and see how you overcame some sort of adversity to achieve the right result. Public speaking is about fundamentally connecting with the people in the audience, making every person feel as though they might be you, or that you’re speaking to them directly. Stories invoke empathy, and this is a powerful tool.
It is important to be yourself – nothing will lose an audience more quickly than if you pretend to be something that you’re not. Chances are they’ll realise very quickly if you are faking it. Additionally, you’ve been chosen to give the speech for a reason; probably because you were the best person for the job. So relax, take a deep breath and pause periodically throughout your speech; these tools give you the opportunity to catch your breath and collect your thoughts while your audience takes on board what you say.
PowerPoint presentations or something similar can be very distracting and ruin a good speech. Keep the pictures to a minimum and avoid too much writing on them. They’re there to illustrate the point you’re making, not provide your audience with an alternative attention base.
Above all, have fun when speaking in public. As an entrepreneur, you can’t afford to be nervous. If you want people to listen to you, then you must find a way to make yourself heard. A fluent, informational, and even a slightly humorous speech will keep the audience interested and eager to know more of what you’re sharing.