If you’re like most people, you probably dread public speaking. For some people, it’s absolutely paralyzing. They freeze up, and immediately forget everything they were supposed to say. But if you’re comfortable doing it, it can be a really valuable skill. Many employers are looking for effective public speakers, especially in leadership positions. Here are some public speaking tips that can help you at work.
Embrace the nerves
Don’t be distracted by your nerves! Most of the people sitting in front of you are terrified of it too, so don’t worry about them judging you. The better prepared you are and the more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you’ll be when you speak.
Know your subject
Nothing will make you more nervous than if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Do your research, verify your facts and figures, and prepare for the questions you might be asked. Then practice, practice, practice. Even if you’re an expert in the subject area, rehearse what you plan to say. Otherwise, you might stumble over your words, repeat yourself, or skip over important facts.
Get familiar with your audience
Know ahead of time who’s going to be sitting in front of you, and what the purpose of your talk is, so you can tailor your language accordingly. Are you teaching entry-level hires? Persuading executives? Selling a product to customers? Speaking to a room full of your peers or subordinates is a lot different than speaking to people who are experts or executives in your company. If you’re speaking to novices or new hires, for example, you might have to define some terms and over-explain some of your examples.
Speak to the point
Why are you there? What message are you hoping to convey? Are you trying to persuade them of something? Or inform them? Know your time limit and make sure you hit those key points within that time frame. This is why practice is so important.
Rehearse with your equipment
As an audience member, there’s nothing more distracting than a dysfunctional microphone or a speaker who can’t figure out how to work the audio/visual equipment. Sometimes it’s hard to grasp the speaker’s message when all you can hear is squeaking and buzzing and weird noises. Get familiar with the equipment—microphone, projector, and other audio/visual tools—you might have at your disposal. If you don’t know how to use it, your talk might not happen at all.
Seek feedback and guidance
As you rehearse, ask a few people to listen and provide you with some constructive criticism. Were you speaking clearly? Too fast or slow? Was your message useful and understandable? And know that there are plenty of resources that you can use to improve. Check out books, community college classes, online courses, and interactive exercises. Or, simply watch TED talks—they’re all such unique, effective speakers that you can learn from and emulate.
For more information on how to develop more valuable skills that can help you get ahead at work, check out our website at https://www.chiefofstaffkc.com.
Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh