To make your next presentation go with a bang, here are our eight simple rules for nailing public speaking.
Public speaking can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone, and if you’re not used to it then it can be downright terrifying.
So to make it easier for you, we’ve put together eight simple rules to remember the next time you have to speak in front of people.
Keep your focus
No-one wants to sit through a presentation that seems to meaninglessly meander — it’s boring and people soon switch off. Make sure you don’t get a reputation as a filibusterer by keeping your talk on-message and as succinct as possible. It will strengthen the credentials of your speech and keep your audience on-side.
Less is more with slides
A lot of presenters make the mistake of putting their entire speech on slide – but what’s the point of talking if everything’s there for your audience to read? When it comes to slides, use words sparingly. Or, better still, stick to images and pictures which will illustrate your points with a little colour and imagination.
Practice, practice, practice
If you’ve got an important presentation coming up then the best thing you can do is practice. You won’t be able to recreate the exact conditions, but it will give you a feel for timing, content and pacing. If you have the resources, why not film yourself? That way you’ll be able to see how you look to the audience.
Style over substance
It might sound weird, but when it comes to public speaking style really does count for more than substance. The chances of actually imparting lots of memorable information during a presentation is limited, so it’s a good idea to focus on how to deliver less more successfully, which will mean it genuinely lands with your audience.
Back up your points
In an era of fake news, it can significantly help your authenticity and believability if you back up your argument with some cold hard facts. This might take a little bit more pre-talk research but it’ll be worth it, and if you pick the right stats they can become great takeaways for your audience.
When you walk onto the stage, don’t start talking straightaway. A lot of presenters do this, and it immediately makes them feel nervous. Instead, take a couple of seconds to compose yourself. It might feel awkward, but it will help pull the audience’s focus onto you and make your presentation start with a bang.
According to Albert Mehrabian’s Rule of Personal Communication, body language makes up 55% of what you say, compared to 38% for the tone of voice and just 7% for the actual words. So, think about the story you’re telling with your body. Be aware of your hand movements and try not to move too much or too little.
Don’t forget to breathe
It sounds obvious because it is – but don’t forget to breathe! When you’re speaking in front of a crowd, it can be easy to race through your speech just to get it over with. Don’t do this. Pace your sentences thoughtfully and if you need a breather then take one! Bring a bottle of water with you to the stage and have a sip whenever you need a moment.