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Tips on public speaking?

I’ve always hated public speaking.... I was wondering what some tips are for staying calm while giving presentations

#public-speaking #public-relations #public-sector #motivational-speaking #speaking #presentations #presentation

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Christos’s Answer

Hi Chandler,
I wish I could give you a magic formula for public speaking but there really isn't one. For example, if you asked me some tips on how to remain calm when snowboarding at high speeds I could tell you things like: "look up to where you want to go and not the ground", "bend your knees and relax your lower body" etc. But nothing beats strapping on your board and practicing over and over again! Public speaking was not easy for me and I had to really try to practice. And it was embarrassing sometimes and I felt horrible but after many times I eventually got used to the feeling. I would thus recommend finding opportunities to practice public speaking. What I used to do is go to a busy street corner, print out a famous speech by a founding father and read it out loud. It sounds weird and embarrassing but it really helped me. What you could do is join a drama class or even try a videogame such as "Comedy Night"; anything that will help you practice public speaking in front of strangers. I know you were just asking for tips for staying calm but what you're really trying to do is step out of your comfort zone; the more you do that the more calm you will be. And I believe in you to do that!

Great answer Christos! Lindsey Manning-Djabbari BACKER

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Kim’s Answer

Hi Chandler!

I was totally mortified when I found out that my current job would require me to teach classes. Thankfully (or not?) it was always the same presentation, so I got to play around with it, and figure out what worked and what did not. I had no control over what was on the slides, but I was free to say what I wanted, within reason. Because this is a class about how to search for jobs, that people were required to attend, even though they did not want to be there, I sensed a degree of hostility.

Over time, I learned the importance of speaking with, and not AT, my audience. I'd give very short quizzes at the beginning of class, to give them a tiny glimpse of what we would cover - asking questions I knew would get them interested. And, I am a very down-to-earth person. I point out the flaws in our job-search website, and then teach them how to get around them.

Each time I spoke, I challenged myself to do one or two things differently. Start by relaxing the death grip on the podium (joke!), and work up to walking up and down the aisles. Buy your own remote if you need one. Don't read off the power point slides. But above all, find your unique style, and engage the audience. Some people start with a joke. Mine usually fall flat, because my delivery is never right. That's why I went to the quiz. Or, you can tell one of those "a funny thing happened on the way here tonight" stories. . .

Remember, all those people in the audience, they are all human, just like you, and at least two of them are thinking, " gosh, I wish I had the guts to do that!"

I still don't have enough experience with it to say I'd be comfortable in other situations (although I did a press conference once - that was scary!), but I can say that I know I'd be able to do it if I had to!

I would definitely consider toastmasters. I've heard a lot of great things about it. Generally speaking, the best way to get better at something you are weak at is to meet it head on!

Keep at it!

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Niru’s Answer

Hi Chandler,

Here are some Tips for Public Speaking:

1) Be yourself, find a style that works for you.
2) Know the content and the Audience.
3) Practice infront of a mirror or someone who can give appropriate feedback.
4) Make Eye Contact
5) Try to make the Session interactive
6) Most important - don't worry to much on what people are thinking about you; Be confident and Be a Natural. Rest everything will fall in place
7) Confidence! Confidence! and More Confidence!

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Erin K’s Answer

Research your audience prior to any presentation or speech. General tactics would include to engage, engage, engage. When I first began public speaking, I read from note cards behind a podium and broke the cardinal rule of public speaking, which is turn one's back to his or her audience, in order to read from a PowerPoint.

It is important to be passionate about that of which you are speaking, but that is not always up to us. Sometimes we are charged with disseminating information to large groups, and ensuring that they leave the presentation having learned something. In this case, I open informative speeches with a brief survey, asking the audience to raise their hands if they are already experts in the topic at hand, moderately familiar, or entirely unfamiliar. The goal is actually to identify those in the room who may actually know more than I and to engage them individually ("put them on the spot," if you will) when it came to areas of content about which I was less confident.

I learned to thrive as a public speaker, loving public speaking is as critical as loving what it is about which you are speaking. It is vital to make eye contact with your audience, and to pay attention to non-verbal cues, like yawing, texting, looking at a watch or clock, to know that you are losing the attention of your audience and may need to redirect your approach. I also NEVER use a podium. As a matter of fact, whenever possible, I am on the floor, walking up and down aisles, speaking TO my audience, not at them, and constantly addressing attendees at random, to see if they are feeling lost or had any questions, or comments.

Finally, if there is one thing a public speaker can do to discredit themselves faster than anything else, is to answer a question with a false, or even mildly uncertain answer. DO NOT LIE. Simply acknowledge the validity of the question, address the audience to see if anyone in the room may know first, and then let the attendee who posed the question know that it was intriguing enough of a question that you would personally seek out the answer and respond asap following the presentation. You can ask the audience members to complete comment cards as well, which will allow them to comment on the presentation and ask any follow-up questions with a space for their contact information. These should be made to look professional, yet succinct, with your name, credentials, and the presentation title at the top, and your contact information at the bottom. They should also be distributed to each attendee prior to the presentation, by either greeting your audience as they enter and handing them out then, or leaving them where the audience will be seated.

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Lindsey’s Answer

However cliche it might sound, the more you know the subject matter you're talking about, the more confident you'll be speaking aloud about it. Here are a few public speaking tips about how to do that:

1. Practice. It's already been said, but I thought I'd share how I practice. When I'm alone, be it in the car commuting or in front of the mirror getting ready in the morning, I pretend like I'm in front of a bunch of people and I just talk out loud! It's SOOO helpful, not just to gain more confidence, but to fine tune what it is I want to say. Once you hear something out loud it either makes total sense and sounds great, or you'll think "oh wow I need to change that and say something different". Do this a few times, and take notes on your computer or phone while you're doing it. Once you have an outline on paper it becomes SUPER easy to memorize your talking points, and BOOM- you're ready.
2. Translate your outline into notecards if you can't memorize the content
3. Imagine the audience as the people who you feel MOST comfortable around (friends, family, whoever!). If there is someone in the audience who you know really well, focus your attention on them when you're speaking. Pretend you're the only two people in the room, and like you're just having a casual conversation with that person.
4. Take the pressure off. Remember to BREATHE!! What's the worst that can happen?!

Practice is essential however you might think of rehearsing your ideas rather than memorizing your speech. Check out videos on Google especially "Toastmasters World Champion". Give yourself permission to Be Nervous - It could be the Energy that leads to Success. Jim Simms

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Jim’s Answer

I have been a Toastmaster for 20 years. Before I left New York in 2003 I had the opportunity to mentor Hofstra University Graduate School of Business Toastmasters. The Dean was thinking of requiring Toastmasters as a prerequisite to obtaining an MBA because he believed that it's that important if you want to be a leader to be able to communicate effectively and confidently. I really suggest you check out a t
Toastmasters club www.toastmasters.org

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Stephan’s Answer

Hi Chandler, believe me it is all about doing it, you will get used it . A simple tip ( which we learned performing in front of 1000th of people: Try to find a focus point in the room and keep eye contact...



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Terence’s Answer

Communications are something that can (and should) be continually developed. Whether you're a student, new to the workforce, developing your career, or even seasoned executives. There would be different areas that each of these profiles are working on, but I firmly believe it's something that people can always learn and improve on.

Initially, I'd say it's about practice and building confidence. Practice speeches out loud, write and speak in your own natural voice, practice in front of classmates or friends.

There are a lot of professional groups/clubs aimed at improving public speaking. Toastmasters is probably the most renowned, but there are others.

A few things to keep in mind when you are speaking. First, no one in the room is rooting against you or judging you. People in the room are generally very interested or rooting for you, or they are flat out not paying attention. It's easy to get lost in your own mind thinking about what people are thinking about what you're saying. Just know it's more than likely 2 options "very positive" or "no opinion".

The other thing to keep in mind, you're likely speaking about a subject where YOU, are the expert on the topic. There may be others in the room or conversation that know what you know or more, but there are many more that know way less about your topic. If you can approach these conversations with this in mind, it can definitely shift your perspective during these conversations or presentations.

Both of these add to your confidence and can be added to your arsenal as you develop your communication skills.

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Ashwath’s Answer

  1. Practice, practice and practice. Nothing comes easy and public speaking is a skill which needs practice.
  2. Concentrate not just on the content but also on the delivery of the speech.
  3. Keep eye contact with all sections of your audience. Divide the audience section in four quadrants, and navigate your eyes through the quadrants.
  4. Be authentic. Your communication will only be good when are authentic.
  5. Keep a good confident posture and have a positive state of mind before you take the stage/podium. Remember, a good content, clean delivery and a positive state of mind is essential for a good presentation.
  6. Focus on outcome. Instead of focussing on what you have done, put the focus on what your audience is looking for and try addressing that.

These are some of the tips which should definitely help. Try out and let me know your feedback.

Good Luck.

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Simeon’s Answer

First of all, reading literature can help by seeing how authors experiment with sentence structure, vocabulary, and artistic speaking. Find books that capture your interest so it won't be so much of a chore. Second, joining a theatre group or club can be very helpful for speaking on the fly in a setting where people are learning how to speak well together. In theatre, you experience what it is like to talk with different voices and in different tones. Plus, it is a social setting where your friends can coach you on ways to improve your speech, without the intimidation factor of taking feedback from a teacher or coach. Third, joining any kind of club or organization will give you opportunities to express yourself and do informal presentations. Really, any kind of group where you communicate with peers is going to be an excellent opportunity to develop speaking skills. If you want to get really technical, you could record yourself giving a speech and give it to other people and ask them for their honest feedback. Lastly, I'd look into Toast Masters. They're a great group for practicing public speaking.

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Annie’s Answer

Have you ever heard someone give an amazing speech or share an idea with such focus, calm and authenticity that you walk away feeling engaged, empowered, enlightened? Well I can promise you that a tremendous amount of practice went into that performance. Public speaking is a performance, one which you will become comfortable with and improve on with experience, but which will always require preparation. You may have heard famous stage performers and comedians comment about how every time they walk out on to the stage they feel sick to their stomach and that for most performers, it is exactly that intense, powerful feeling of fear mixed with confidence that, in part, draws them to their art. The difference between someone who comes across as polished, professional, calm in a public speaking engagement verus the person who is jittery or even off-course in messaging, is preparation. Know what you will say, practice what you will say, have notes to guide you, record yourself and listen to how you sound, get practice feedback from peers or family members, and fine tune your performance. This is true of any communication. Some key points to keep in mind:
*Pay attention to your tone of voice - you need specific tones for specific messaging.
*Speak slowly and apply different speech space based on messaging. Pause for effect - but never affect. Give your audience a chance to absorb your thought.
*Check, check and recheck your language. If you are uncertain of the contextual meaning of a word or phrase, research it.
*Simple is better. Use language you are comfortable with and check, check and recheck the pronunciation of a word you are unfamilar with.
*What is your message? What is the goal of your speech/presentation? Every sentence you share should work toward that goal.

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Sandra’s Answer

Public speaking can be intimidating but remember, you are your own toughest critic and people will not realize if you make any mistakes (plus they will forget about your mistakes anyways).

Before a presentation:
The best thing to do is to prepare ahead of time. Write out your bullets and practice speaking in front of the mirror or with a family friend. It may feel silly or awkward, but it will make you feel more confident when you have to present.

During a presentation:
- Take a deep breath and smile and remember to pause once in a while.
- When speaking to the public, try to look at the back wall (not people).
- Remember it's ok to make a mistake - we all do it. If it's an obvious mistake that people notice, just try to poke fun at yourself or crack a joke and you can relate to your audience more.
- Most likely, people will not be able to tell that you are nervous :)

You will do great!

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Nagarajan’s Answer

Here are my few tips

Understand your audience, and prepare accordingly.

1) Practice Voice Intonation.
2) If you are a male, Deeper voice will attract audience. You can practice and improve.
3) Body Language and Eye Contact.
4) First few minutes matter a lot, have a good start.
5) Adjust the content as you go, based on audience attention level/interest
6) Have a flow to your talk, don't talk about too many things and confuse the audience.
7) Slow down. If your audience is non native to your language of delivery, then speed needs to be even lower. Also your presentation might need to have little bit more text, to help the non-native audience
8) Ask for the right amount of time, based on your content. Or cut your content to fit within time. But don't speed up, and loose the impact. Don't compromise on time vs content. This might be contradictory to point 13 :-(
9) If you are using slides, then keep it simple. But sometime, it might make sense to have detailed slides as backup or even part of your main slides, depending on who is going to listen.
10) Have demo etc if possible to keep the audience engaged, specially if you are doing technical presentations.
11) Be sensitive to local customs. Both on how you need to behave an how audience responds. You can ask your host/organizer for tips, you will learn some from experience
12) Ask questions. But again be careful, in some countries, audience don't ask question in larger forums, and they may not answer your question either, or even raise their hand.. If the audience are from a Hierarchical company, then only the senior most person/s might ask questions, others will not ask questions etc.
13) Be little flexible on time. Your session might start late or you might speak last etc. You might have to tweak your talk based on situation.
14) Learn to handle questions that you might not have an answer for.
15) End well with a summary or the action you want your audience to do.

Having a good understanding matter, but more importantly how you deliver the message matters even more. Like the points above.

Keep Learning !!