21 Public Speaking tips by Dr. Prem Jagyasi
Did you know that you could become a professional and powerful speaker only by following simple tips?
One of the things I love most about my life is being able to speak, share my knowledge and change lives. A few years ago when I started as a public speaker, I never knew that I would deliver speeches and workshops in over 65 countries. Today, when I look back, I realize what has helped me to become a global speaker is just the ability to be myself with all my limitations.
If you want to speak without notes and appear more in control, authentic and connected to your audience then this video guide is for you who finds public speaking completely out of their comfort zone.
Recently, after a powerful presentation, a group of young professionals came to me to get some tips on delivering influential and powerful presentations. I shared some of the secrets that I have understood over the years while speaking in over 150 international conferences in 50+ countries.
Well, the first thing to consider for a speaker is to have faith in himself. S/he needs to be sure that people want to listen to him to benefit from his knowledge and expertise in his field. Accordingly, it becomes imperative for a speaker to express accumulated wisdom and expertise in an interesting manner. The best way to do it is to rely on his personality and body language so that he could engage with the audiences, instead of just presenting dry facts and figures. Ian McAllen, the famous actor, personifies the art of body language and gestures to the fullest, as he makes swift hand and body movements to get the audience interested.
Famous speakers (leaders instead), such as the likes of Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi, had faith in themselves and, accordingly, they always focused on the issue or topic at hand. Now, that’s the reason why they could inspire an entire nation with their speeches. They had charisma, worked hard on their speech and did not doubt that they were right. So long you have something interesting, inspiring and meaningful to share, do not hesitate to go on stage and deliver the presentation regardless of your designation, experience, or language skills. Remember you should do justification with audience time, energy and money spent to listen to you.
Here are 21 concise yet truly powerful tips (in random order) to help you deliver effortless and highly effective presentations -
1. Topic Landscape
A presentation with loose ends is bound to fail in fetching you the kind of response that you always desired and deserved. Thus, a speaker cannot afford to plan his communication in the middle of his speech. An effective dialogue or proper communiqué always has its roots in a proper topic landscape. At the very outset of your speech, tell the audience what you are going to talk about. Next, you need to talk about those points specifically. While you conclude your speech, don’t forget to remind them about what you just talked about. If you can pay heed to these pointers, your audience will get your message very clearly.
2. Go beyond facts and figures
In my opinion, most conference speeches are filled with just copied information and facts, instead of focusing on getting the message across with passion, commitment and intent. Any speaker who intends to reach new highs with his public speeches should think of going beyond facts and figures. Of course, you can present facts but explain their relevance in simple language. Use the information to see how they can utilize this to understand their business better and develop effective business goals for the future. Facts and figures should be used as a tool to overcome the limitations of thought and develop new insights accordingly. You must have a unifying message tying up your presentation, which is the audience’s “take home” from you.
3. Be fully mindful all through the presentation
To inspire and motivate your audience, a formidable mental and stage presence is pivotal for your cause. As most of us are usually thinking about the past and planning the future simultaneously, it doesn’t allow us to be completely present, even on stage. Cultivating the habit of mindfulness can help you become a motivational speaker who is always attentive to his audiences. It can help you sense the mood of your audience and accordingly, help you deliver your speech effectively.
4. It’s okay to have native accent
Well, it’s perfectly OK to have your own signature style blended with native accent. Don’t worry much about your language skills; instead, just try to be honest and yourself. You could also talk less and convey more through your body language. Just ensure that your accent is not a hurdle for your audiences to understand your topic. Instead of bombarding your audiences with high-flowing jargon, go for simple English and use well-established idioms, proverbs and quotes to make your audience understand you better.
5. Know when to use PowerPoint slides
It’s best to start without the help of PowerPoint and use it only as a tool to present the figures, instead of making only a PowerPoint presentation. If your presentation is short, say less than 15 minutes, and you are sharing your personal experiences and stories, you should definitely ditch PowerPoint to allow the audience to focus on you. Making eye-contact will not be possible, if their eyes are focused on the screen and hence, you might lose your audience.
Even if you use PowerPoint, do not type the entire message. Just keep bulleted points for you and your audience. Furthermore, use presenter view mode to know what’s coming for you. Keep a uniform design, style, fonts and taste across all slides. You may even add interesting graphics, images or videos within the theme of your speech.
6. Mind your body language
You can be a great speaker if you use proper body language. It’s best not to make unnecessary body movements, such as grabbing your arms or wildly flailing your arms about. Practicing in front of a mirror will make you aware of which body movements are acceptable and which are not. If you haven’t done so already, I would suggest you to watch TED Talks of Amy Cuddy – Your body language shapes who you are – to understand how body language can make all the difference. Also check some of my Public Speaking photographs may be this help you to get an idea about body language.
7. Rely on your magic
There is no magic wand that will make you a great speaker. But it is true that magic happens on stage for some speakers. How does that come about? The answer is just because these speakers enjoy speaking, and speak from the heart even on the driest topics. The audience can feel the raw energy of the speaker and become motivated in return. Enjoying giving a speech can help forget the anxiety and nervousness of being on stage, and help you become a better speaker.
8. Add humor to speech
Sir Ken Robinson, through his TED talks, has inspired thousands of speakers worldwide to make humor an essential element of their speeches. His subtle humor combined with complex topics makes a huge difference that in an unfaltering way, gets him standing ovation every time he delivers his impressive speeches.
Believe me – your audience would start focusing on everything around except you and your speech, if you fail to tickle their funny bones at times. It’s not necessary to be overtly funny or hilarious when delivering a presentation; still, it makes perfect sense to combine some wit and humor to create a complete package. Humor actually helps speakers to connect better with their audiences.
9. Maintain proper eye-contact
Eye contact is fundamental for effective public speaking and an impressive stage presence. It can give you power over your audience and make them feel that you are connecting with them heart-to-heart. They are encouraged to interact with you – they may nod, frown or smile, or sometimes ask a question. How you look into their eyes can transform a passive audience into an interactive one. Maintaining eye-contact for 3-5 seconds will slow you down, enabling you to pause for effect. A classic example of this is President Barack Obama, who uses meaningful pauses to deliver powerful speeches. Making eye contact also establishes your assertiveness and helps you to empathize with your audience.
10. Interactive involvement
Actively interacting with your audience will reap huge benefits for you and your audience. All speakers must develop this quality, and do it in their own personal style. After all, public speaking or delivering powerful speeches is all about connecting with the audience, whether you are launching a new product, delivering a keynote or giving a speech at an award ceremony. Many famous speakers treat their on stage speeches like well-crafted plays, with a clear beginning, middle and end. This preparation helps them to think of ways to interact with their audience, leading to greater involvement.
11. Stage presence
Some people are born with a charismatic stage presence. But it doesn’t mean that it can’t be acquired. Delivering a presentation in an unselfish-conscious manner with confidence can boost your stage presence. But you must rehearse your presentation so that you are absolutely thorough with it, which will help you to focus on developing your stage presence. Steve Jobs’ legendary stage presence was due to his being open with his audience and sharing his ideas in simple English. He could make a product launch into an extraordinary experience, which his audience never forgot. Just being able to talk to your audience comfortably in a confident manner is what sums up a remarkable stage presence.
12. Zeal to help and guide
Those speakers who truly believe that their speeches / presentations are going to help people can be the most effective and sought after speakers. People can recognize the fact that s/he is trying to convey something which will be of help to them in their lives, and appreciate this fact.
13. Powerful, full of wisdom and inspiration
Speakers should seize the opportunity to craft presentations which are powerful. An effective speech would have inspiring quotes interspersed with information to drive home the point. This should be delivered wholeheartedly, to get the audience involved. Not only quotations, but a presentation which aims to motivate and is conveyed in a convincing manner inspires people.
14. Don’t rule out the power of emotion
Whether you’re making a business presentation or a self help one, you have to take note that emotionally connecting with an audience is what will help your presentation succeed. You can do this by including anecdotes, even personal ones and presenting your own personal views on the topic, all the while making direct eye-contact with your audience. You must tell a story instead of making a presentation”.
15. Establishing rapport through anecdotes
You must ensure to make the audience feel that they’re in good hands and that begins with the way you first greet your audience. Remember that you are a performer on stage now, and not a presenter of information. Take cues from leading performers like Sir Elton John. At all times, you must be yourself, as blindly copying someone won’t work. Feel free to include anecdotes in your speech so that the audience could connect to the thought in question and accordingly, believe that they are a part of the conversation.
16. Prepare your speech
It’s an obvious point but needs reiterating. It includes not only writing your speech based on audience research, you also need to decide the mode of presentation – how many slides will you be using, if you’re giving a PowerPoint presentation. Do you know how your breathing will sound over the microphone, is the venue a familiar one and if the venue is a new one, what kind of equipment is available – being careful about these points can help to raise your speech up a notch.
17. Audience research
It is imperative to know to whom you will be giving the speech. Many speakers lose their audiences as later find it difficult to relate to what is being said. Your speech would be different when speaking to an audience made up of trainees, middle managers, high level executives or colleagues. You should do thorough study of their company and maybe can mention it in passing, which would get them more interested in you.
18. Preempt negative reactions
Your audience may have some hecklers, who may be quite vocal about their opinions. But sometimes, you may have a negative reaction from your audience, which you may get to know later. This is because the audience may feel that you either “talked down” to them or the opposite. Many experienced speakers fail to engage their audience just because they did not make the effort to understand the intellectual capabilities of their audience.
19. Be prepared for tough questions or formulate your own
Anticipating questions that you may be asked during the question and answer session and preparing for those will increase your credibility. If you are not asked anything, you can still share the most asked questions with your audience, leading them to appreciate your zeal more than ever.
20. Prepare a strong closing to your speech
A strong closing is essential – a powerful quote relevant to the topic or an effective summary can be used to end your presentation. An awkward end does not serve any purpose and may undo your entire effort. Leaving your audience with a thought provoking message will establish your presence in their minds and hearts.
21. Is your presentation socially shareable?
Steve Jobs was one of the greatest speakers or presenters of modern times, and many analysts noted that his presentations comprised mainly of headliners, of not more than 140 characters. This is one way to ensure that the people you are addressing remember your quotes and pass them on. Using technology to get across your point through all media is an important aspect of presentation.