Public speaking is the process of communicating information to an audience. It is usually done before a large audience, like in school, the workplace and even in our personal lives. The benefits of knowing how to communicate to an audience include sharpening critical thinking and verbal/non-verbal communication skills. What makes public speaking different from, say, just talking to a crowd of people, is in the way information is conveyed. In public speaking, the information is purposeful and meant to inform, influence or entertain a group of listeners. There are five elements of public speaking, and it basically boils down to who is saying what to whom using what medium with what effect. In other words, who is the source of the message. What is the message itself? Whom is the audience, while the medium is the actual delivery method and ending in the effect. Think of the effect as the speaker’s intent for the speech. Public speaking can be terrifying, but when you care about your career progression you need to find a way to get your voice out. Unfortunately, if you’re public speaking skills are not up to par, it’s likely that no one will be focused enough on your presentation to really receive your message.
Here are characteristics of effective public speakers that you should emulate to become an influential and inspiring leader:
• Confidence: A highly confident speaker is viewed as being more accurate, competent, credible, intelligent, knowledgeable, likable, and believable than the less confident uncertain speaker. When it comes to public speaking, confidence is key (not the only key mind you). When speaking in public, it’s only natural to be nervous.
• Authenticity – Be yourself. If you have to deviate a little from your meticulously written presentation, do so! Although you should practice your speech as often as possible, you don’t want to memorize it! Memorizing a speech can cause you to fumble over a section if you didn’t say it just right. To excel at public speaking you must do more than just defeat your nervous jitters. You must also have confidence in your subject and be yourself while you are on stage.
• Passion: In order to really communicate to people through speech, you need to have passion about your subject. Without passion, your speech is meaningless. You need to exude a level of sincerity in your emotion when communicating to your audience if you want them to be moved by your presentation. There’s no need to attempt to ‘practice’ sincerity by practicing your speech with a raised voice and waving arms. Simply focus on how you feel about your top and those that you are communicating with. It can be hard to be passionate about your topics when you present at work but aren’t really engaged in the activity. Sometimes, to show passion about a topic that doesn’t completely excite you, you need to dig deep into the topic and find things that interest you.
• Be Yourself: You don’t have to be someone else on stage, all you have to do is just be yourself. Sometimes, no matter how much you believe in your message or how well you’ve rehearsed, if you don’t act like yourself in front of the group, your audience may view your speech as insincere or calculated. If a political candidate doesn’t seem authentic, it’s not likely they’ll win an election. If a company’s social marketing strategy appears inauthentic, their sales will not go up. If you create a page on a dating website but what you write is not authentic, the people reading are likely to pick up on this inauthenticity and never contact you. Speaking is the same way.
• Practice, not memorization: In order to ‘be yourself’ in a presentation, you shouldn’t memorize your speech in absolutes. Practice your speech as often as possible, but be willing to change-up the wording. This makes it easier to change it up during the actual presentation if things aren’t going exactly as planned. Memorization can set up a barrier between you and your audience.
• Connect with your Audience: A speech is just like a conversation, which means you need to communicate your message to someone else. In this sense, there is no difference between talking to one person or a thousand. The problem, however, is that we’re all subject to a large amount of information in a short period of time, and it can be difficult for you as a speaker to cut through that noise and prove that what you’re saying really matters. You can’t ask them to turn off their phones, but you can make them set their phones down by creating an atmosphere that excites and engages the listeners.
The best ways to connect with your audience are;
• Tell stories.
• Be aware of your target audience.
• Know the energy in the room.
• Be Willing to poke fun at yourself.
• Work on your non-verbal body language.