Public speaking is an important skill for professionals, even in an environment where businesses are rapidly adopting new communications technologies. This technology may even increase the likelihood that you’ll need to stand in front of a group of people and inform or persuade them with your speech.
Speaking does not need to be a nerve-wracking experience. With preparation and the right mindset, your presentations can be a positive experience for you and those who hear you. Use these tips to increase your confidence and build rapport with your audience.
GIVE THEM A GIFT
Approach your speech with the intent to have a positive impact on your audience. Whether you want to inform, persuade or even entertain, you’ll feel confident when you know you are doing something good for the people who are there to hear you. They will sense that attitude and respond in kind.
Remember that people chose to come hear you. They have professional or personal reasons to come and are hoping to receive a benefit. Think about that benefit in your preparation and deliver it in your speech.
ADAPT YOURSELF TO THEM
You do this all the time. You speak to a child differently than you speak to an adult. You may use technical jargon at work that you would not use elsewhere. You are sensitive to who you are conversing with and you choose your words and tone appropriately.
Think about your audience in the same way. Adapt your speech to what they can understand, whether they are neophytes or masters. Connect to things to which they can relate. If you get your mind off yourself, you can read an audience as easily as an individual. Read them and appropriately adjust your words, voice, pace, volume and movement just as you do in conversation.
Do not copy someone else’s style. You will sound stilted and boring. You will feel uncomfortable and phony. Your audience will notice.
Do not worry about whether your audience approves of you. Just concentrate on giving them something good in a way they can receive it and be confident in that. Be considerate to your audience, but never try to be other than yourself.
Keep these tips in mind and use them as you prepare for your next speech. When you know you are doing them a good turn and you have considered their needs in your presentation, you will feel good about what you are doing and so will they.
Keenan Patterson is a manager at Infra Consulting LC in Jefferson City, Missouri. In addition to consulting and he provides training to nonprofit and association boards, governing boards of municipalities and special purpose districts, and regulatory commissions, and speaks to diverse audiences.
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