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5 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills

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by Pam Terry in Blog, Mastering Public Speaking
February 11, 2014 6 comments

5 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills

You’ve probably heard of the top 3, top 5, or top 10 tips for public speaking and they most likely include actually preparing your presentation (versus winging it), practicing it (in front of the mirror and/or your dog), becoming familiar with where you will be speaking (go by and check it out), and dressing up rather than down. These are all great tips and they do work. I want to share 5 tips that you might not have heard before. They get into specifics and knowing them can build your confidence.

1.  Stage Presence
Are you a moving target or a statue on stage? If you have every watched a real pro on stage, you’ll notice that they don’t move around like a hamster or just stand rigidly in one place.  We’re talking about a real stage.  The key is to stay in one place long enough so that your audience can focus on you.  If you must move about, confidently do so and move to a spot where you will stay for 10-15 seconds.  If you move around too fast, then your movements will become the focus.  Moving around like a moving target or staying in one place like a fixture may be an indication of your nervousness. Own that stage and be confident in owning it.  Think of it as your own home where you feel completely relaxed and in charge.  Your confidence will be compelling.

2.  Be Compelling
What makes someone compelling?  Have you ever been around someone who has an incredible energy where you might think (or even say out loud) “whatever it is you have, I want some!” Those qualities are happiness and gratefulness.  These are the two emotions that confident speakers display. They are in a word, happy! You display happiness in your voice and your smile. You speak clearly, loudly, with emphasis, with exuberance and you are genuinely happy to be connecting with your audience. Gratefulness is displayed by slowing the pace at times, speaking softer, and letting the audience know that you appreciate them. You can generate these two emotions anytime by your intention to be them. Being happy and grateful can inspire you and your audience. Now that’s compelling.

3.  Start With a Song
The first 10 seconds of your presentation are crucial. This is where people begin to judge you and it is your opportunity to gain their attention, their trust, their curiosity. What’s the best way to do that? Think of starting with a song. What I mean by that is to start with a melody – put a little tonality in your voice – you can do that by simply saying “Thank you, Kimberly, for inviting me to speak today.” But, say it with a pause at the commas, and emphasis where the words are bolded. When you use your first 10 seconds to confidently begin with emphasis and “melody,” your audience will sit up and take notice and be curious for what’s next to come.

4.  Get Comfortable with Silence
You’ve heard them and you’ve probably said them – nonsensical sounds and words. They have no value and yet we use them like crutches. The goal is to simply not use them – you certainly don’t need them and they are annoying. What are they? They are the “uh’s,” “um’s,” “basically’s,” “like’s” or whatever words you use to fill the silence or that you say when you don’t know your material that well. They are bad habits and bad habits can be changed. How? Start recording your voice when you are on the telephone or when you are practicing a presentation – notice when you are saying them – then get comfortable with the silence instead of saying them. There is power in the pause!  Bite your tongue. Extend the vowel of a word instead of saying them. Try these techniques and say goodbye to your crutches. You will be a much better speaker!

5.  Have Fun as a New Character
What do Prince, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Sting, Bono, and Pink have in common? They are all characters that have been created for the stage. You can do the same, but you don’t have to change your name (unless you want to). Public speaking can be enormously fun – think of what character qualities you would like to have and invent yourself as that character on stage. That’s what these performers have done. Think about their outlandish antics and how they dress. You don’t have to go that far, but you can be anyone you want to be and leave your stage fright and nervousness to the regular you who will be waiting for you when you get off stage. But, when you are giving a presentation, you are a whole new persona and having fun at the same time. Think about it.

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Pam Terry

Pam Terry is a public speaker coach and marketing strategist who has helped hundreds of people become compelling speakers and get business from speaking. Her straightforward style empowers experts to experience joyful self-expression. And, her talent for creating structure and systems enables her clients to accelerate their success! For more tips and resources, join The In Demand Speaker Official Group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/theindemandspeaker.com.
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6 Comments
  1. Min. Earnest James says:

    #5- This is one of the biggest things for me. I have often thought of how I want to be perceived when I speak. I’m usually quiet and shy and I found that if I wore tented glasses, it gave me a sense of hiding who I am. Which allowed me to present myself as a more out spoken and fearless speaker.

  2. Pam Terry says:

    Perfect. You have another way of looking at who you are on stage – the outspoken and fearless speaker! I love it. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Suhani says:

    Thx for all this great tips this helps me a lot!!!!!,✌️

    1. Pam Terry says:

      It is my pleasure. Glad it helps!!

  4. Ridhima says:

    Thnx for these tips…they’re really helpful and realistic!!

    1. Pam Terry says:

      Thank you Ridhima for your kind words. I’m glad that you found my tips helpful. Best wishes with your public speaking journey.

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