How can we speak effectively in public? This post shows you how.
1. We should look our best. Although people aren’t supposed to ‘judge the book by its cover’, some people unconsciously tend to do that. If we don’t look credible enough, they may not even start listening to what we have to say. I’m not saying we ought to wear gowns or tuxedos, but simply wear clothes fit for the occasion. Our clothes should be neat and free of wrinkles (unless it’s the clothes’ style), not too loud that people would rather stare at it than us. We should be pleasant-looking, and I’m not only referring to our clothes but our faces and gestures as well.
2. We should know how to stress our point. A speech, like a song has a variety of notes, tempo and loudness. A singer who just screeches all the way from the beginning to the end will not be listened to, no matter how talentedly-highpitched she is. Same with delivering a speech. We ought to know when to stay silent, when to pause, when to speak loudly, when to whisper, when to speak fast, when to slow down, etc. or else we would sound monotonous and the main points of our speech would not be understood or remembered well.
3. We should be humble. We should admit it when we make mistakes during our speech and to apologize for that mistake. There are times we may forget a certain term. Instead of pausing for a long time or using a word we’re not sure of, it’s better to ask our listeners. Do not be ashamed to do this. Listeners would appreciate your humility and even relate to you more because they know you are just like them, a human capable of making mistakes and forgetting things, a great or famous person, yet, still human, like them, and this makes the listeners love you more.
4. We should develop a clean sense of humor. Relating to the above mentioned tip on humility, it’s not embarrassing to make mistakes or forget things especially when you have a good sense of humor to save the day. Instead of that instant becoming one of your most embarrassing experiences, it might even become one of your speech’s highlights depending on how you carry yourself. Let me point out though, that it’s a clean sense of humor I’m talking about, because I’ve heard some speeches before that relied on toilet humor and/or ‘for adults only jokes’ (you know what I mean)and the listeners, me included were not amused at all. Some might even be offended and walk out. So, be careful with the jokes, okay?
5. We should talk to the listeners not just with our lips but our eyes too. Even if we have a prepared speech (which speakers usually don’t memorize), we should not glue our eyes on it. It’s probably better if we just write outlines of our speech and not the word per word thing, for we might just be tempted to look at it more. If it’s an outline, we wouldn’t rely on that sheet of paper before us. Instead of looking on the prepared speech sheet, we should be looking at our listeners. Don’t just focus on one though (even if there’s a really gorgeous guy or girl in the audience who caught your attention). Look from left to right or right to left slowly; look at nearly everyone. Look them in the eyes, try to see if they understand your point. Let’s not look at trees or the stage’s ceiling or floor. We are talking to the people, so it’s them we ought to look at. Let’s make sure though that the way we look at them is not in any way offending though. And what we’re saying should be in harmony with how we look at them.
6. We should use our gestures well. If you’re a conductor in an orchestra, I’d understand why you have a lot of hand gestures (just kidding!^^), but if not, minimize it. We don’t want the audience to be distracted with our unnecessary movements while we talk. Our gestures should be governed by what we say and what we want to point out. We should avoid having a memorized gesture like children are taught when reciting a poem in grade school. (we’re not kids anymore, so it’s not cute anymore^^)
7. We should use appropriate language. There’s no need to use terribly deep-no one-else-has-heard-of terms or expressions to impress the listeners. Instead of gaining admirers, we might even lose them. Speak with simplicity and sincerity. Speak your audience’s language, meaning, make your language appropriate for their level of understanding and appreciation.
8. We should connect to our listeners. Let’s not speak as if we’re on a stage in an empty hall. We should talk to them. Some speakers even go to the point of going down the stage and talking to individuals, making the audience feel that they are important and that it’s not a one-way communication speech, but a discussion and that their thoughts matter. We don’t always have to do this. It depends on the occasion, the listeners and the time allotted for our speech. I would just like to point out that speakers who make their audience feel that he is not the center of attention but them (the listeners) win their respect more.
9. We should believe in what we are saying. If we don’t sound convinced by what we say, we can’t expect anyone to believe it. In the first place, there’s no need to be shy when asked to speak in public because the fact that you are asked to speak to the audience already means that you have authority in that area you will be talking about, and that those people already believe in you to begin with. So, let’s prove them right and not waste their trust.
10. We should be able to inspire our listeners to take action. This skill is probably not that easy to develop, but it’s the skill that separates good speakers from great ones. Why? Because even if people enjoyed our speech and listened to it, if whatever action we expect from them afterwards was not realized, then, our talk might have been in vain. It might have been good for the moment, but not one that will be remembered or change lives.
I hope you learned a lot from these tips. I will write more tips and articles to share with you soon. If there are topics regarding English you would like me to discuss, kindly let me know. I’ll see what I can do for you.