Public speaking is something that everyone in the business world must do at some point.
Presenting content to your supervisor, colleagues, clients, media or contributors is a necessity of working in a corporate environment. The problem is… most people are terrible public speakers.
They cannot express themselves well in front of others, and their presentations lack the persuasiveness and confidence needed to inspire those in attendance.
In this article, I’ve shared tips from myself and other influencers on how we became good public speakers!
Identify your audience.
Before you give a presentation, do your research on who will be in the audience.
This can help you determine which points to stress and how best to deliver your message.
It’s important to know what your audience hopes to get out of the presentation.
If they have a certain goal, you’ll need to tailor your presentation so that it helps them reach that goal.
Identifying their needs is more than just knowing if they want to learn something or buy something—it’s understanding their pain points, what motivates them, and cultural norms around language and knowledge level.
For example: as an influencer whose target audience is millennials, you should know that they prefer concise messages using direct language rather than formal or overly academic speech patterns.
Have a strong opening.
- A strong opening is critical for all public speaking situations. The most challenging part of a presentation is convincing the audience to listen with all their brainpower, not just their eyes.
- Stand up, walk around, and be yourself at the beginning of your speech. If you’re nervous, remember that it’s just one conversation in front of an audience. You’ll be fine if you don’t nail the first line.
- Imagine that you’re giving a speech at an intimate dinner party or presentation at work with friends and family members present, then recreate those nerves in the same setting. It will help when your mind fires up and starts racing during your presentation.
As a speaker, it’s crucial that you give your audience your undivided attention.
You’ve earned the opportunity to stand on that stage, so don’t waste that time by looking at your phone or notes.
By being present and making eye contact with the audience, you’ll gain their trust. You worked hard to get where you are.
- Use your hands to emphasize points: Just like in conversation, using hand gestures can help emphasize key points and ideas, especially if part of what makes you an engaging speaker is humor. And when it comes down to it, who wouldn’t want all eyes on them?
- Stop looking at your notes: Your nerves may be tempting you to look at your Prompter app during the talk in case you forget something important—but experts say avoiding this temptation is key for public speaking success. It’s better for the audience if they see you as a person who knows their own content well—and besides, it’s much more engaging for everyone involved!
Tell stories and use humor.
- Tell stories. Methodically make your point, by all means. But don’t mistake that for the only way to connect with an audience. The most persuasive speakers are often those that can tell a story in a way that leaves people thinking about it long after the presentation is over. If you’re selling a car, tell the story of its development from first conceptualization to the finished product you’re showing off at this event today. A well-crafted story will always leave room for interpretation and zestful reactions from your listeners.
- Use humor—but wisely! What’s more appealing than a speaker who can make people laugh? A speaker who knows how to use humor as a tool for getting their audience on board with them and their mission. Humor is an excellent device because it allows audiences to relax into what they’re hearing and creates a rapport between the speaker and audience members, but be judicious in how you apply it: big jokes are distracting or inappropriate before you’ve made your point. Also, look out for material that doesn’t necessarily reflect your core values; not everyone has the same idea of what’s funny and some things aren’t worth risking controversy over.
Use your voice.
Your tone of voice is incredibly powerful when it comes to public speaking. Use your voice to make a few key points:
- Emphasize the important parts. Let’s say you are speaking about your favorite book, which was written in 1818 by Jane Austen. You want people to know that this book is set in rural England and that its characters aren’t rich but they do have manners and good morals. Your voice should reflect some excitement as you present these facts because they help define the book.
- Show emotion! For example, if you are talking about your mother who passed away recently, let your listeners know how sad or happy, or proud you feel about her life by changing the tone of your voice.
- Keep them interested! If you speak in an excited voice, people will be more interested in what you are saying than if you speak in a monotone way (with no change in pitch).
Engage the audience.
There are many ways to engage an audience while on stage. Here are some of the best:
- Make eye contact with your audience, but don’t just focus on one person for too long. If you’re up there for a presentation, take 30 seconds to scope out the room and try to get a sense of who your audience is and what they’re looking for from you. For example, if it’s college students in a classroom setting, don’t bother trying to make jokes. You can still be engaging without doing this.
- Gesture with your hands while you speak or use props that involve movement (like a magic wand). This creates visual interest and makes it more likely that your audience will follow along with what you’re saying (and remember it!).
- Use facial expressions that indicate humor or surprise at appropriate times so people can tell when something is funny or interesting.
- Get audience participation by asking questions and having them shout out answers before revealing the correct response yourself – this will help keep everyone engaged since they’ll feel like they were part of something important!
- Use technology like PowerPoint slides or video clips during presentations so people have something else besides just words coming out from their mouths as entertainment.”
Get rid of filler and jargon words.
In our business, we use a lot of jargon words.
To those inside the industry, they make sense, but to outsiders? Not so much.
As an influencer, you have to be conscious about who is listening and use language that even your great-grandmother would understand.
You may think filler words such as “like” and “uh” sound okay when you say them, but to an audience, they sound like nails on a chalkboard or a record scratching to a halt.
Instead of saying these filler words while you speak, pause for two seconds between sentences or clauses.
The two-second break will let you gather your thoughts and the audience won’t think you are dragging the presentation out forever. They will appreciate it (and so will your mom).
If two seconds feels too long for you right now, practice taking deeper breaths or pause for just one second instead! You’re doing great!
Influencers have to know how to present themselves to an audience in person as well as on the Internet.
These days, having a presence on the Internet is crucial to being a successful influencer.
People expect you to be able to speak in public, however. How can you develop your skills as a public speaker?
Check out these tips for learning how to craft compelling stories that engage your audience:
Is there an example of someone who is both an influencer and a great public speaker?
You bet! Check out our interview with [influencer], who they say has made it in this business because they know how to craft compelling stories that engage their audience:
Public speaking and being an influencer are a lot more similar than you might think.
You believe in what you speak of, and convey that message to a crowd while inspiring them and intriguing them at the same time.
The bottom line is this: The speaker is an influencer and the influencer is a speaker.
It’s your job as a speaker to influence your audience, and it’s your job as an influencer to captivate your audience and let them know who you are and what you believe.
What’s your favorite tip?