Speaking—especially in your non-native language—can be tough. Add in the pressures of an audience (face-to-face or even digital ) and the need to be perfect, and you’ve got a situation that can put even the most seasoned business people ill at ease.
Like many skills, speaking in public or in front of a camera is something that can absolutely be improved upon with a little bit of effort. Use these 7 tips that you can start practicing today to becoming a more confident and composed public speaker.
- Keep your hands out of your pockets. When speaking in public or on a video we’re not sure what to do with our hands, and so often want to put them in our pockets. Resist this temptation and either do nothing or do something specific with your hands. For speaking in public, try holding a pen (or a wine glass if at a networking event) as a crutch to keep those hands in sight. On video, if you are not comfortable using your hands to express yourself, just keep them relaxed and down by your side. You might feel weird, but your audience won’t see it that way.
- Make eye contact with your audience. When speaking in front of a small group, you can easily look everyone in the eye in turn while you speak. For larger groups, try scanning the room regularly and see whose eye you can catch. Speaking on video? Look directly at the camera and your viewer will lock eyes with you on the replay and still get the feeling of eye contact.
- Smile. Unless your topic is grave, smiling in front of a group or on camera is almost always the right answer. If you are speaking and your audience can’t see you, such as on a conference call or during a voice-over, they can still feel the smile in your voice. Don’t believe us? Try it!
- Use pauses. Public speaking often makes us nervous which in turn makes us talk faster to get it “over with” more quickly. Defy this urge and slow down between phrases! It’s harder to get your point across if people can’t hear you or if your thoughts verbally seem to run together. Also, if you use pauses effectively, it’s easier to splice video and audio together so you don’t have to be perfect for every take on your next vlog.
- Practice speaking about things you are comfortable with and knowledgeable about. Do you have a passion for your pets? Or an unusual hobby? Practice speaking about topics you are comfortable with and soon, topics that you are not quite as passionate about (like maybe your quarterly reports to your boss) will become easier after “exercising” that muscle.
- Show your personality. Gone are the days when all news broadcasters had to sound the same. Show your personality in word choice, cadence, accent and your clothes/accessories. Being yourself will make you feel more at ease than trying to be someone you’re not and help you connect more authentically with your audience. That connection is the mark of a truly great speaker.
- Grab a friend. If you really want to be a better public speaker, it can be tough to practice on your own or find venues where being less polished is acceptable. Find your local Toastmasters International club and learn specific types of public speaking like making a wedding toast or giving a corporate presentation in a safe environment with other people also looking to improve and practice their skills.
Speaking doesn’t have to be scary—try these tips today and let us know how you get on. Want more help? We can train your team in a group setting or our team of experienced speakers and coaches can work with you one-on-one. We’re here to help.