CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – APRIL 24, 2021
Public Speaking and Presentations: Tips for Success (Part One)
This resource includes tips and suggestions for improving your public speaking skills.
Even if you’ve never spoken in front of a large group before, chances are you will encounter public speaking sometime during your life. Whether you’re giving a presentation for your classmates or addressing local politicians at a city council meeting, public speaking allows you to convey your thoughts and feelings in clear ways. Having the right tools can prepare you for successful public speaking and equip you with high-quality communication skills.
Know Your Audience
Different audiences require different modes of public speaking. How you address a room full of preschoolers will vary from how you address a group of professors at an academic conference. Not only will your vocabulary change, but you might alter your pacing and tone as well.
Knowing your audience also helps you decide the content of your speech. For example, if you’re presenting research to a group of scientists, you might not need to define all your scientific language. However, if you present that same research to a group of individuals who are unfamiliar with your scientific field, you may need to define your terms or use simpler language.
Recognizing the extent to which your audience is familiar with your topic helps you center your presentation around the most important elements and avoid wasting time on information your audience either 1) already knows or 2) does not need to know for the purpose of your speech.
Knowing your audience also means tailoring your information to them. Try to keep things straight and to the point; leave out extraneous anecdotes and irrelevant statistics.
Establish Your Ethos and Feel Confident in Your Subject
It’s important to let your audience know what authority you have over your subject matter. If it’s clear you are familiar with your subject and have expertise, your audience is more likely to trust what you say.
Feeling confident in your subject matter will help establish your ethos. Rather than simply memorizing the content on your PowerPoint slides or your note cards, consider yourself a “mini expert” on your topic. Read up on information related to your topic and anticipate questions from the audience. You might want to prepare a few additional examples to use if people ask follow-up questions. Being able to elaborate on your talking points will help you stay calm during a Q & A section of your presentation.
Stick to a Few Main Points
Organizing your information in a logical way not only helps you keep track of what you’re saying, but it helps your audience follow along as well. Try to emphasize a few main points in your presentation and return to them before you conclude. Summarizing your information at the end of your presentation allows your audience to walk away with a clear sense of the most important facts.
For example, if you gave a presentation on the pros and cons of wind energy in Indiana, you would first want to define wind energy to make sure you and your audience are on the same page. You might also want to give a brief history of wind energy to give context before you go into the pros and cons. From there, you could list a few pros and a few cons. Finally, you could speculate on the future of wind energy and whether Indiana could provide adequate land and infrastructure to sustain wind turbines. To conclude, restate a few of the main points (most likely the pros and cons) and end with the most important takeaway you want the audience to remember about wind energy in Indiana.
Don’t be Afraid to Show Your Personality
Delivering information without any sort of flourish or style can be boring. Allowing your personality to show through your speaking keeps you feeling relaxed and natural. Even if you’re speaking about something very scientific or serious, look for ways to let your personality come through your speech.
For example, when Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek announced in March of 2019 that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer, he still let his trademark dignity and professionalism set the tone for his address. He began his announcement by saying “it’s in keeping with my long-time policy of being open and transparent with our Jeopardy! fan base.” Later, he joked that he would need to overcome his illness in order to fulfill his contract, whose terms required him to host the show for three more years. Though the nature of Trebek’s announcement could easily have justified a grim, serious tone, the host instead opted to display the charm that has made him a household name for almost thirty-five years. In doing so, he reminded his audience precisely why he is so well-loved.
Make It A Champion Day!