For the majority of people in a business role, there will be a number of circumstances where you will have to speak publicly. Whether it is addressing delegates at a business conference, or presenting key points to your team, most situations tend to be rather daunting. If you are looking to improve your public speaking skills and make it a more seamless process, look to implement the following five tactics.
1. Know your content
When a speaker is continuously looking down at their notes and isn’t confident in what they have to say, it instantly gives a bad impression. If you have practiced your key points and are able to elaborate without notes, you will find that the speaking part will come naturally to you. A confident and knowledgeable speaker is much more appealing to an audience, and shows that you have invested time into the topic and your presentation.
2. Understand your audience
Whilst we usually reserve audience analysis for a writer, it can actually be very useful in a public speaking context as well. When constructing your speech, take the time to analyse the demographics of your audience. Ask yourself questions such as ‘How well do I know this audience?’ and ‘What is level of experience and education are they likely to have?’. This will help you in using the correct tone and amount of relevant jargon, and result in a more tailored speech.
3. Ensure the room is prepared
Prior to your speech, ensure you arrive early to become familiar with the room and its facilities. If you are doing a presentation such as a PowerPoint, make sure that the projector and your computer are compatible. Also, scan the room for any distractions or possible hazards whilst walking around. These steps will help to improve your public speaking as you will feel more prepared and less stressed about the situation. Minimal stress will allow you to present your information with ease, and ensure the process runs smoothly.
4. Make the crowd comfortable
When you commence your speech, it is advised that you try to lighten up the mood by starting with something less formal. Whether it’s a relevant quote, or a short story which then leads into your presentation, this will allow you to gauge the audience’s interest, and make them more comfortable. Once you understand the crowd, it will help you to improve your public speaking experience overall as they will be more engaged and make you feel valued for being there.
5. Practice makes perfect
As much as we may not like this reality, great public speaking truly does come with practice. As a novice public speaker, take every opportunity you can to speak to an audience. Whether it’s in team meetings or on a larger scale – putting yourself outside of your comfort zone often will help you to build up greater confidence. With a number of public speaking experiences under your belt, you will be on track to improved public speaking skills in no time.
What do you think?
Do you have any other tactics to add in order to improve your public speaking skills? Public speaking is certainly not the easiest of tasks, but with practice we can all become fantastic public speakers. I’d love to learn of your experiences so comment your views below and join the conversation. This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.Image: Shutterstock.com
*The Australian Institute of Business (AIB) is Australia’s largest provider of MBAs. Source Ready, B. (2023) Domestic Enrolments Surged During COVID After International Students Locked Out, MBA News. Available at: MBA News.