Speaking at Live Events: How to be a Good Public Speaker
Public speaking. Two little words that are powerful enough to make even the most courageous of people shudder. The act of speaking in front of an audience is one of the most common fears among adults.
In fact, according to the National Social Anxiety Center, 73% of the population are affected from glossophobia (the scientific name for wanting the ground to swallow you whole while addressing a crowd).
However, there are many instances in many professions which call for some form of public speaking, be this a small internal meeting all the way through to a presentation at a global conference. Therefore, being a confident public speaker is a fantastic addition to your professional repertoire.
Throughout the Covid-19 outbreak, when face-to-face events were put on hold, speakers were asked to undertake virtual public speaking. It seems many of you adapted seamlessly from live presenting to presenting remotely, however the transition back may not be so easy. Presenting in-person at a face-to-face event can often feel more challenging. The speaker can feel more exposed and more sensitive to the mood of the room.
And now, after almost 2 years, speakers are being asked to present in a face-to-face environment, without batting an eyelid. Unfortunately, it may take a bit more work than that, however there is more than one way to become far more comfortable speaking at live events. One of them is to remember to incorporate the tips and tricks we’ve listed for you below, while the other, far quicker and possibly more effective way is to utilise UKSV’s speaker coaching sessions.
UKSV’s speaker coaching sessions can be held for you as an individual, or for your team as a whole. If you’d like more information on these sessions, you can contact us for more details.
UKSV’s Public Speaking Top Tips
Practice, Practice Practice!
It is often said that practice makes perfect, however we’re not striving for perfect here. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that in giving speeches, ‘perfect’ doesn’t really exist. That said, practice will make you feel more comfortable with your speech, which will improve your delivery and help minimise nerves on the day.
Use a Friend or Coach for Support and Critique
A great way to practice is with a friend or professional coach who will be able to give you useful feedback during your speech. This will also help you get used to practicing in front of people.
Don’t Stick to a Script
As you’re practicing, try not to be too rigid by sticking to your speech word for word. Have prompts in front of you, but make sure you’re not reading off a full script. In fact, try not to read at all if you can help it. One of the important aspects of a successful speech is the delivery. You need to be able to connect to your audience and unfortunately, looking at a script too many times can break that connection.
Know Your Live Audience
When creating your content there are a number of things you need to think about. First of all, ensure you create your content with your audience in mind. This means learning about your listeners; what kind of language do they use, how are they most likely to retain or absorb your information? Do they want or need interaction or visual aids?
By thinking of all of these questions, you can begin to create a speech tailored specifically to your audience, ensuring they have an enjoyable experience and get value out of hearing you speak.
Say What Needs to be Said
This leads us on to understanding what your audience needs to hear on your subject. How much do they already know? If you’re talking to professionals in the field of your topic, it’s best to treat them as such. Additionally, you need to understand what it is that you need to get across to your audience, and how to go about that.
Include Real-World Examples
To create engaging content, you’ll also need to include real-world examples and stories of your own experience. This creates a more ‘human’ and relatable element to your speech which is far easier to listen to than someone speaking solely of statistics and data.
Open and Close with a Bang
How many speeches start with ‘Today I’m here to talk to you about…’? And how many great speeches start the same?
Try to win your audience’s interest right away by starting with an attention-grabbing opening statement. You’ll find that instantly people will sit up and listen.
Similarly, leave them with something to think about. End your speech with an interesting rhetorical question or a comment which leaves some food for thought. This will help your speech be more memorable within your audience, which often helps with the retention of the overall messaging.
Ask for Help if You Need It
Just like getting a friend or speech coach to help you with your practice runs, it is often beneficial to ask for content creation help. A second or third opinion can often help you find weaker parts in your speeches and improve them.
UKSV can help with the entire content creation process, also assisting with the creation of visual aids and structure of your speech, alongside your speech delivery.
Read the Room
One of the great things about delivering your speech to a room full of people is your ability to read the room and gauge your audience’s reaction. This will help you to adapt your delivery if necessary to ensure you’re delivering value in a way which is engaging to your audience at that time.
This requires some practice and some confidence though, so be sure to be comfortable with the overall substance of your speech, rather than hung up on the delivery of it.
Body language is an important factor of giving a speech, especially in a face-to-face even where more of your body is seen. Therefore, there are a couple of things to think about in regards to how you hold yourself while delivering your speech.
Fake it ‘til You Make it
Stand up tall and proud while giving your speech, rather than slumping your shoulders and avoiding eye contact. This helps to open up your chest and aids with projecting your voice. Also, this will often make you feel more confident as you carry yourself with an air of certainty.
Don’t Overdo it on the Hand Gestures
Some people can use flamboyant hand gestures and get away with it, however it is often a distraction. Be concise with your gestures, but don’t go over the top and detract from your speech.
Being a nervous public speaker is incredibly normal. There are very few people who won’t experience some nerves before stepping out on stage to give a speech.
One of the most effective ways to reduce this nervousness is to practice your delivery and have confidence in the value of your speech.
UKSV can help you on both counts. Speaker coaching has been a core part of our offering for many years. We can help you create content that conveys your messages effectively in an engaging way. Additionally, we can help you with the delivery of your speech, giving you techniques to increase confidence with public speaking.
Finally, we’ll leave you with some additional things to remember when giving your speech:
- Don’t be afraid of silence. Pause when you need to.
- Make eye contact.
- Memorise your opening and closing statement by heart.
- Remember you don’t have to answer every question, so if someone throws in a curveball tell them it’s a great question and you’ll get back to them on that.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself – public speaking can be challenging! Everyone gets nervous and, chances are, your audience won’t even notice!
If you’d like to know more about our speech coaching, please contact us, we will be more than happy to help you.