Leadership skills may come naturally to some, but many people are still apprehensive about public speaking.
Here are five tips for engaging your audience more effectively and honing your negotiation skills through the lectern.
Be loud and clear
It may seem obvious, but mumbling through your speech or presentation isn’t going to inspire confidence.
Train your voice so it is strong, crisp and clear, and practise your tone to provide variety and colour to your monologues.
Use fewer words
When writing a speech, opt for the smallest words with the fewest syllables.
It’s easy to get carried away and end up with a rambling script that will not only read awkwardly – it will sound like you’ve swallowed a thesaurus!
Gauge audience reaction
Carefully judge how the audience is reacting to your presentation. Do they seem engaged? Focused? Bored? Distant?
If you’re not hitting the right chord with listeners, you may need to switch things up mid-performance. Telling more stories, using examples or asking questions are all ways to achieve this on the fly.
Be aware of body language
Your body language can give away just as much about you as your words, so try not to fall foul of negative non-verbal cues.
Looking at your watch, fidgeting, slumping your shoulders and avoiding eye contact with the audience are all indications that you aren’t enthusiastic or confident during your speech.
Structure your Q&A
A questions and answers session is a normal part of many speeches and presentations, but these should be planned and structured well.
You may want to avoid starting with a Q&A, as you might end up covering large parts of your speech before you’ve even started.
However, it’s also recommended to avoid ending with questions. You will want to finish strongly rather than letting the audience have the last word!