Got a speech coming up? Try these tried-and-tested tips from experts and blow everyone away!
Just the idea of giving a speech in front of a large group of people is enough to send many into cold sweats. That’s why countless experts have been asked to share their public speaking hacks — after all, if you’re not born with it, you can learn it, right?
Here are some of the most helpful public speaking hacks we’ve seen:
1. Get them with a hook
To get your audience hooked, start with an interesting story or anecdote. This could be a personal story, a shocking statistic, or a really thought-provoking quote from an expert. A strong start will get your audience intrigued and eager to hear more.
Using stories “creates a bond with the audience,” Christine Goldfuss, president of Bethpage Toastmasters, tells Life Goals Mag. “Your audience may not remember everything you said, but they’ll remember your stories.”
2. Memorize your introduction
Experts advise memorizing your introduction, as those first few moments are the most crucial part of your speech. Learn the beginning inside-out so it becomes almost natural to you. “This empowers you to start strong and make a confident first impression despite nervousness,” communications coach Danielle Price tells Business Insider.
3. But don’t memorize your ENTIRE speech
You’d think that learning your speech by heart will eliminate any chances of anything go wrong, but experts say otherwise.”It’s a terrible idea,” Gary Genard, president of a speech-coaching and training firm, tells Wall Street Journal. Memorizing your speech word-for-word only makes your speech seem more artificial and impersonal. Plus, mental blocks are totally a thing.
Know your speech inside-out, but instead of memorizing it, simply prepare a cheat sheet with buzzwords to help you along with your speech.
4. Take things slow
Your speech tends to speed up when you get nervous, so be aware of this and take a deep breath when you hear your speech getting too fast.
“They want you to succeed up there, but the more you rush, the more you turn them off,” motivational speaker and author Simon Sinek tells Entrepreneur. “If you just go quiet for a moment and take a long, deep breath, they’ll wait for you. It’s kind of amazing.”
Don’t be afraid to speak slowly. Sinek says there’s no such thing as “too slow” when it comes to public speaking. “It’s incredible that you can stand on stage and speak so slowly that there are several seconds between each of your words and people… will… hang… on… your… every… word. It really works.”
5. Skip the jokes — or, at least, wait until you tell one
You might’ve heard that starting a speech with a joke can break the ice, but this doesn’t always work. In fact, it’s a pretty risky move.
“There are some people who are genuinely uncomfortable with the need to start with a joke,” Tom Clark, a public speaking and communication professor, tells ABC Radio Melbourne. “There are some people who start with a joke and wonder why everybody looks so uncomfortable.”
Telling a joke successfully requires an impeccable sense of timing that, quite frankly, not everyone has. So unless your joke is really, really good (or unless you’re really, really funny), skip the stand-up act and focus on just being relatable.
6. Stick to warm tea
“Don’t drink ice-cold water before you speak because it can constrict your vocal cords,” Author and speaker Lee Silber tells Life Goals Mag. “Warm tea with lemon is the preferred drink among professional speakers.”
Other drinks you should avoid? Carbonated drinks (you’ll be burping throughout your speech), caffeinated drinks (might upset your stomach), dairy (could cause mucus buildup), alcohol (could dry your throat), etc.
7. Arrive early
When you’re speaking, arriving “on time” means getting to the venue early. Get there at least an hour ahead to check out the space, figure out if your PowerPoint presentation is working, and if the lighting and mics are the way you want them.
Arriving early also gives you some time to mingle and build rapport with people — doing so will make it easier for you to speak in front of them.
“Even with the best of intentions and preparation, everything will probably not be perfect at the venue you’ll be speaking at. That’s life,” writes public speaking coach Fred E. Miller on his blog. “Get there early, take control, and do what you can to ‘set the stage’ for your great presentation!”
8. Practice, practice, practice
The old adage “practice makes perfect” is true. Preparation is a crucial part of delivering a speech, so practice as much as you can. Do it in front of your friends and family, in front of a mirror, and even take a video of yourself and see how you can improve. If you practice correctly, you’ll be delivering your speech like a pro.
We hope these public speaking hacks were helpful! Got any public speaking hacks of your own? Share some in the comments!
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