Public speaking is certainly one of the things people fear most; however, even if public speaking is something you struggle with, there are tips you can follow for improving your speaking skills. Improving your speaking skills will help you in many areas, not just the dreaded speech class. Having good speaking skills will help you when you have to deliver presentations for work or school. It will also help you when you are speaking in small groups. If it seems challenging to develop good speaking skills and like some people are just natural born speakers, you will be happy to know that speaking skills can be learned. Being a good speaker just requires practicing the right skills.
1. Have Notes
A simple way to start improving your speaking skills is to make sure you always have notes when you are giving a speech. Notes will help guide you through your speech so you don’t get off topic or miss an important point. When you are making notes for a speech, make sure you don’t write your notes in complete sentences, as you are more likely to read your speech from your notes. Rather, have bullet points that cover key topics and important information like statistics. Even if you are doing a power point presentation it is still a good idea to have notes. Notes will prevent you from looking at the computer screen or the projection screen. Your audience wants to hear you speak, not look at your back.
Even though you will have notes, it is still important to practice your speech. Practicing will help you be comfortable with the information you are presenting. You want to make sure that you are knowledgeable about the information, and practicing is one of the best ways to do that. Additionally, when you practice you feel more prepared, which helps you feel less nervous when you are giving a speech. Rehearsing your speech also allows you to practice some additional skills that will help you improve your speaking, such as not speaking too fast.
3. Slow down
When people are nervous they tend to talk faster, which is not good if you want people to understand what you are saying. You may not realize it, but good speakers actually speak at a slow to moderate pace. This gives the audience time to take in the information. Before you start your speech, take a deep breath and remind yourself to slow down. Also, as you are speaking, try to be aware of your pace. You may need to slow yourself down a few times during your speech. One of the best ways to make sure you don’t talk at lightning speed is to practice giving your speech at a moderate pace. If you practice at a moderate pace, you will be much more likely to give your speech at a moderate pace.
4. Eye Contact
One of the hardest things for people to do when they are giving a speech is to have eye contact with the audience. However, it is very important to have eye contact. It allows the audience to connect with you and what you are saying. Having good eye contact doesn’t mean staring at one person for the duration of your speech. Instead, you want to make sure that you are looking around the room and have eye contact with most of the people in the room at least once during your speech. If it makes you nervous to have eye contact, practice your speech with friends and family members first.
5. Fluctuate Voice
Have you ever had a teacher who speaks in a monotone voice? If you have had such a teacher, you may have had a difficult time staying awake. When people speak in a monotone voice it can be very difficult to stay interested in what they are saying. To prevent people from becoming bored and sleepy when you give your speech, you need to make sure you fluctuate your voice. You want your voice fluctuations to sound natural. You don’t want to sound forced or fake. Therefore, when you practice your speech, make sure you are speaking with normal fluctuations. For instance, people raise their voice at the end of a question. Although it can be hard to fluctuate your voice when you are speaking in public, it is something that you do every day. Therefore, you just need to make sure you practice and relax.
6. Facial Expression
When you are giving a speech, people tend to focus on your face, which is why it is important to make sure you don’t have a deadpan expression. When you are nervous it can be very easy to look like a deer in the headlights, but if you practice, you can avoid this. Practice your speech in front of a mirror and take note of your facial expressions. You don’t need to plaster a smile on your face, but the occasional raised eyebrow or small smile can really help take your speaking skills to the next level. Do what comes natural to you. For all you know, you may already have a very expressive face. You just have to watch yourself in the mirror to find out.
7. Move around
It can be very tempting to stay glued to one spot when you are giving a speech, but it's much more interesting to listen to someone who moves around a little bit. As you speak, you want to slowly move around, or change your position every so often. This helps keep the audience’s attention on you. If you stay in one spot, the audience can become bored and start to look around the room. However, if you move around some, the audience will stay focused on you and what you are saying. If for some reason you are giving the speech in a small room and can’t move around, you can move your hands and arms a little bit. This will also help maintain the audience’s attention.
When you are going to be giving a speech it helps to know some useful tools that will improve your speaking skills. All of these tips are very simple, but it does take a little practice to get comfortable with speaking in public. Don’t worry if the first few times you have to speak in public you are nervous and make mistakes. No one is perfect, but with practice everything improves. Do you get nervous when you are speaking in public?