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Simple Stepping Stones To Public Speaking Success

If you can overcome the typical nerves of giving a speech, there is in fact many little tweaks you can make to improve your speaking abilities, and engage your audience. Much of speech giving comes from experience, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you remain interesting and don’t put your audience to sleep.

Memorise what you intend to say

If you’ve ever watched a speech delivered by President Barack Obama, usually to a crowd of thousands, do you notice he doesn’t look at the sheet of paper before him? When you read your script like a script, it instantly loses that attention grabbing quality and credibility. To maintain its gravitas, practice memorising your speech with certain prompts so even if you happen to lose your place, you’ll be able to carry on without tripping over your words.

Don’t speak too quickly

According to a study commissioned by Post Office Telecoms, it was shown the ideal speaker uses a maximum of 164 words every minute with a gap between sentences of 0.48 seconds. When people are nervous, they talk quickly. This is something you need to avoid at all cost to avoid your words becoming jumbled and incompressible. If you feel yourself rambling, take a deep breath, look out at the audience and continue.

Stand your ground

An especially useful tactic for nervous speakers who aren’t used to taking advantage of the stage to its complete potential, spread your feet slightly apart and plant them firmly. Do not move from this spot. Many potentially great speeches have been undermined by the speakers distracting fidgeting and box step. Many people bounce from foot to foot when they’re nervous, or rocking back and forth. Not only is this immensely distracting for your audience, it will also demonstrate to them you’re not confident. The most important aspect of your speech is to demonstrate your exceptional verbal communication skills, not your ability to tap out a dance routine mid-sentence.

Don’t be afraid to use hand movements

A compelling speech is on par to delivering a story. A story is not going to carry the same emphasis if the speaker is sitting on their hands the entire time. When you’re making a point, make sure to complement it with a sharp hand gesture. Whether a fist to the palm, cutting gesture, or clap is up to you. If your words are flowing from one topic to another, make your hands flow along with this style of speaking. For those who don’t think they can pull this off naturally, practice in front of a friend of even a mirror to make sure it looks genuine. Don’t underestimate how a few well-timed gestures can completely change the success of your speech.

Vary the intonation of your voice’s pitch

Think of the jarring Dalek voices from Doctor who, Darth Vader’s mechanised tone, or the dreary words of the Vogons from Hitchhiker’s Gide to the Galaxy. While they might make excellent villains, listening to their monotone and flat tones was not the most pleasant experience. When you’re rehearsing your speech, it’s important to make sure your sentences aren’t all sounding the same. Vary your pitch with highs and lows when suitable to avoid sounding monotonous or boring.

Make the right amount of eye contact

We get it. It can be unnerving to stare out into the crows when you’re making your speed. You don’t have to look at everyone though, just single out a handful of friendly looking faces and alternate looking at one for a handful of seconds before moving onto the next and so on. By doing this you won’t seem panicked and rather jumpy.

 

If you work at making these little adjustments to your speaking style and mannerisms, you will improve your verbal confidence significantly.

 

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