How to Become a Better Public Speaker

When you think of a successful public speaker you may imagine someone presenting a Ted Talk – those who are world-renowned professionals in their fields, ground-breaking artists, and Average Joes & Janes who have lived incredible experiences and come together to share them on a grand stage. Yes, they do it very well, but so can you. “Talk Like Ted,” by Carmine Gallo, studied and broke down just how these presenters do it. He covers how to captivate your audience, deliver your message effectively, and be memorable and thought provoking all at the same time, and he does it with real-world examples of speakers you’ll admire.

It’s fair to say that not all hurdles in life are a mile high, but some are definitely more scary than others. Like public speaking, for example. According to Ethos3.com, a fear of public speaking can cause a cut in wages of up to 10 percent, and a 15 percent chance of missing out on a promotion to management. Plus, a whopping 75 percent of the population says they struggle with public speaking. The point? You’re not alone.

Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. Big presentations are intimidating. Working a board meeting isn’t exactly like playing Radio City Music Hall, but it can sure feel like it. Still, if you practice playing the big venues then the small-time concerts should seem like a walk in the park, right? In fact, some of your biggest challenges will come not from the large audiences but from the big personalities in the room. Not to intensify your nerves, but a smaller group doesn’t always mean an easier presentation. Your peers, bosses, and their bosses… these people can create a fairly sweaty, jittery scene. No matter the size or structure of your audience, here are some key tips for becoming a better public speaker.

Plan Diligently – You plan your vacations, your weekends, probably even what you’re going to binge watch on Netflix. So, it’s definitely worth planning talking points, the audience’s key points of interest, and even some light jokes for your presentation.

Practice – We all embarrassingly practiced that first kiss in the mirror. Well, time to pucker up yet again. A mirror, a camera, and an honest friend – they’ll all give you the right input. Use them as a gauge for what’s right and what’s wrong with your presentation.

Practice Engaging the Room – Be willing to take side-steps during your presentation. You may get questions and comments in the middle of your presentation… so it’s best to learn how to incorporate them. Anticipate what may come up and plan your reactions. Take what they offer and use it to your advantage by redirecting their comments back to your main points.

Pay Attention to Body Language – Not just theirs, but yours as well. Keep in mind that in an office setting, crossed arms and scowls on faces aren’t always direct reactions to you. Often, they’re positions of comfort. It’s possible you’re not the only one that is uncomfortable in the room. Keep in mind that when you’re driving home quality points that effect your listeners, they will often mirror your body language. Guide them, don’t let them guide you.

Think Positively – If there’s something on the line for this presentation – like a big sale or promotion – don’t let it amplify your nerves, use it to your advantage. Notice the accomplishment itself. Acknowledge your nerves and learn how to cope with them. It sounds cliché to claim that “worrying never helped,” but manifesting a positive outcome will definitely work to your advantage.

For those who prefer to master a skill by learning from a pro more directly, we’ve got you covered. If you’re going to take a Karate class, why stop at being a white belt, right? Delivery of your material is an art form that you’ll develop over time and with practice, and using someone like a public speaking coach will prove invaluable. Think of it like learning how to land a knockout round-house kick from a sensei. The class? Check out Terawatt’s online courses to find one related to public speaking.

At the end of the day, learning and mastering a new skill is what drives most of us forward. So, the next time you’re faced with the same nail-biting, sleep-stealing hurdle of public speaking, ask yourself how it would feel if you’d kicked that fear goodbye… With practice, before long you’ll hardly even notice there was a hurdle in the way at all.

Ready to take action toward becoming a better public speaker and presenter?

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