Business How to be a good public speaker even if...

How to be a good public speaker even if you don’t speak for a living!


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By Dianna Booher—

No matter where your salary, profits or clients come from, learning a good speech can increase your chances of success in your chosen profession.

If you’re a corporate trainer, you’re presenting information, data, or exercises to a captive audience — and you definitely don’t want them to get bored and scold your classes.

If you’re a writer, your fans will ask you to talk about your book at their book club or at book signings.

If you are a CEO or director, whether you are a large or small organization, you will meet groups of strategic suppliers or customer executives.

If you are a top performer in your organization, your boss will either send you to speak at industry conferences or your colleagues will invite you to share your how-tos to help them succeed.

So how do you know if you have the natural talent for public speaking?

Try a test drive.

Step 1: Identify and select a topic or incident to talk about: a favorite movie, a horrible customer service experience, the funniest prank someone pulled during your high school or college days, or perhaps an ongoing conflict you’ve had with a family member or friend .

Step 2: In the privacy of your own home or meeting room at work, tell the story out loud and record yourself on your iPhone (video recording, not just audio).

Step 3: View and analyze the recording. Did you use an engaging delivery style? Did you sound genuine, authentic, relaxed? Did you have a lot of energy? Were you animated or too ‘low-key’ to hold someone’s attention?

Step 4: (optional) If you are unsure about your self-analysis, ask a friend or colleague to listen to your recording.

Whether or not you like what you’ve recorded, you may want to “up your game” with the following seasoned speaker secrets:

Public speaking tips to go from amateur public speaker to professional speaker

Tip #1: Be your best self – not necessarily your natural self.

We all hear a lot about authenticity and sincerity these days. Well and good. Always be authentically yourself. But most of us are authentically different ‘even’ on different occasions with different people.

For example, with our children or grandchildren at McDonalds for burgers, we dress, speak and sign differently than we dress, speak and sign at a wedding reception. We tailor our word choices, tone of voice, gestures, posture and movements to the audience and the occasion.

Never be energetic or boring if you just want to be casual or informal in your presentation.

So, as a public speaker, present your best self to any specific audience and occasion.

Tip #2: Use content-specific gestures.

Instead of using familiar, repetitive gestures, make sure your gestures match your ideas.

Gestures paint a word picture as you speak. They also reinforce key ideas. Your gestures help listeners visualize what you’re describing. With a few simple gestures, you can give the audience a hint of the original scene or situation, and the listener’s mind fills the rest. Their senses will expand their experience to make your point memorable.

Also remember: the bigger the space, the bigger your gestures need to be to engage your audience. To increase your presence, lift your arms off the shoulder and move your arms outward from the torso of your body rather than inward toward your body (unless, of course, you’re referring to yourself as you speak). Such large, flowing gestures convey your openness to the group and give you a larger-than-life presence.

Tip 3: Move with purpose.

Never walk back and forth and wander aimlessly across the stage. Plant your feet. Make a point. Then move to a new place during the transition. To the audience, your position on the podium corresponds to paragraphs on the page. Movement promotes understanding.

Tip #4: Vary your voice: volume, intensity, inflection, tempo, pitch and pattern.

Avoid the deadly monotony at all costs. Think of your inflection as a highlighter. Pause before and after the sentence to underline an important point. You may even want to repeat it — or raise or lower your voice for stronger emphasis. After a few quick sentences, slow down to let your main point seep deep into the listener’s consciousness.

In short, you want to talk in a natural, conversational way. How passionately would you tell this story or give this information to friends over dinner? Use the same delivery style for a larger audience.

Use these tips and you are likely to become a successful speaker, whether or not you earn a salary or fee for your lecture!

Dianna Booher is the bestselling author of 49 books, including: Communicate like a leader. She helps organizations to communicate clearly. Follow her and @DiannaBooher.

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.


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