OK, now for the last part of our series on public speaking: TIPS & ADVICE
Here are some final tips to ensure your next speech is one everyone will remember!
1. Tailor the message to the audience. Find out who you’re talking to and make the speech for them. It’s a lot different talking to a group of PHD’s than talking to a group of graduating high school students.
2. Don’t say um, uh, like, etc. This takes away from what you are saying. It distracts people. It also makes it sound like you don’t really know what you’re going to say next… and you don’t want people to think that. I counted in a 15 minute speech once, and a man said uh 76 times! That’s 5 “uh’s” a minute. One nearly every 10 seconds. Very distracting.
3. Don’t keep saying a phrase after every sentence or point. I.E. Don’t say “You know what I mean?” or “You know?” or “You see what I’m saying?”. You can say phrases like this once in a while… but if you say it after everything you say… it gets distracting.
4. It’s OK to stop and pause for a moment. If you lose your place just stop and regain composure for a minute.
5. Dramatic pause can add effect as well. Use it wisely.
6. Have good posture. Stand up tall, and act confident - even if you don’t feel it. Fake it till you make it.
7. Speak loud and clearly. Don’t chew gum. Drink a glass of water before you get up to speak.
8. Don’t stare at one person. It makes them uncomfortable. Scan the audience slowly as you talk. Make eye contact with a few people, but not for too long.
9. You will be nervous… that’s fine. Just use that to help you do better.
10. Practice giving your speech out loud before you give it. MANY times! If you just go over it in your head, it’s not the same.
11. Don’t fidget. Stand still. Don’t rock back and forth. Just stand in a normal way – the same as if you’re just standing there talking to a friend.
12. Use your hands when you speak… but not too much. Use them to make and emphasize some points, but if you use them too much it’s distracting.
13. Smile! Have a pleasant face as you speak. Don’t look too serious. Just relax your face muscles and have a slight smile on your face as you speak for the most part.
14. Be careful making jokes at someone else’s expense… In certain situations this can be OK… but be careful when doing this. Most of the time it backfires and makes you look bad.
15. Be descriptive when telling stories or events. Make people believe they are there with you. Make them smell, feel, and hear the story!
16. When using visual aids such as a PowerPoint presentation, make sure to never stand in front of the presentation. Also, don’t turn your back to the audience if you can help it.
17. Speak slowly. Since you are nervous… you will have a tendency to talk fast. Don’t do that. Take a deep breath if you have to, so you can ensure you are talking at a normal speed.
18. If you make a mistake, don’t worry! Don’t get flustered and let that mistake lead to multiple more. Just understand going into the speech, that you will make some mistakes; It’s inevitable. Just cover them up the best you can, and keep moving forward.
19. If you’ll be answering questions, try to anticipate beforehand what people will ask so you are prepared. Rehearse with a colleague if needed before the speech. Always be polite when answering, and if you don’t know… don’t freak out. Just say you don’t know, and you’ll have to look that up and get back to them.
20. If you’re on a stage, move around a little. Walk back and forth. Don’t just stand in one place the entire time.
21. Avoid slang or metaphors that some people may not know.
So there you have it. All the makings of a great speech or presentation. Feel free to leave any additional advice or tips below, and good luck on your next public speaking opportunity!