Like it or not, at some point in our careers it is likely that we will need to deliver a speech or a presentation in front of a big audience.
Whether it is a talk at a major event, a sales pitch to win a top account or a presentation for an internal audience, public speaking is a key skill to develop if you want to advance your career.
Now that we’re all used to TED talks, expectations are higher than ever before. So, what can you do to shine in your next public appearance?
- Prepare, prepare, prepare - Unless you are a consummate actress like Olivia Colman, you will not get away with charm alone. There is no such thing as enough preparation. Know your subject, rehearse in front of a mirror or, even better, get someone to record you so you can see yourself afterward and spot the points you need to improve. Being really prepared will save you from reading your notes; a big no-no by TED standards.
- Be genuine - Colman’s success at her acceptance speech at the 2019 Oscars was due in part to the fact that she was genuine. She showed who she really is without putting boundaries on her personality.
- Use humor - Again, Colman mastered this and made everyone cry with laughter.
- Become a storyteller - The most impactful speeches are the ones that use storytelling techniques. There is nothing more boring than someone throwing disconnected information at you. Transform yourself into a narrator and keep your audience engaged. It is especially compelling to use personal examples to keep your audience interested.
- Be ready to change direction - Study your audience carefully to detect possible signs of disengagement. If you see them yawning, it’s time to try something different.
- Control your body language and speaking ticks - Use your hands and do not be static, but do not overdo the gesticulating. You do not want your audience worrying about you suffering from St. Vitus’ Dance. Equally, control your speaking and vocal ticks. No throat clearing, sniffing, grunting, ‘um’, ‘like’, ‘you know’ and so on, please.
- What starts well, ends well - The most powerful parts of your speech are the opening and the closing, so invest your time in working on these parts.