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Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 15 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Tips; Public Speaking; Speech Maker;

Do you want to become a more skillful public speaker? Then look no further than the following eight public speaking tips, each geared to improve your aptitude and make your speeches shine with clarity and professionalism.

Public Speaking Tip #1:
Learn to work with your fear, not against it.

Most public speakers experience a case of “nerves” before they stand before an audience. Even those who have given hundreds of speeches may feel “butterflies” in the pits of their stomachs. However, the most successful public speakers are able to work with, not against, their anxiety.

The secret to dealing with normal stage fright is to be accommodating of it. Acknowledge that you’re nervous; often, addressing it makes it seem much less daunting. Then, once you’ve accepted its presence, you can engage in deep breathing exercises or other behind-the-scenes public speaking exercises to quell your apprehension.

Public Speaking Tip #2:
Always aim to make a good speech better.

If you’re giving a speech for the tenth time, chances are that it’s become a little stale. To ensure that you are always challenged and that your audience always gets your best performance possible, tweak your speech here and there every time you give it. You don’t have to make major alterations in the text, but do add new elements, such as different props or a twist on one of your themes.

Public Speaking Tip #3:
Remind yourself that you’re in control.

Even if you have someone in your audience who is heckling you, it’s critical to remind yourself that you are the one in charge of the speech. Should someone in the room try to (figuratively) take the stage for him- or herself, you may have to (politely, of course) request that he or she hold comments until the end of the discussion.

By taking charge of any unexpected situations and exhibiting an “I am the one in control here” attitude, you’ll put your audience and your nerves at ease.

Public Speaking Tip #4:
Get out from behind the podium!

Have you been using podiums as crutches? Then it’s time to break out of your comfort zone!Don’t wander around the room or stage mindlessly, but do remove yourself from the podium if it seems appropriate. You can always take your note cards or a clipboard with you to keep on track if need be.

Public Speaking Tip #5:
Rehearse your speech.

You may think you can “wing” a good speech, but it’s nearly impossible to pull off a great performance with little or no practice.

Do yourself and your audience a huge favour and practice your speech in the days before you’re expected to give it. A good rule of thumb is at least a couple of hours for every hour you’ll be onstage. You will never regret being prepared.

Public Speaking Tip #6:
If it’s not working, ditch it.

If you find yourself giving a speech in front of a group whose members are practically falling asleep, it’s time to try something new.

Never hesitate to “shake up” your audience by announcing, “This isn’t working, is it? Let’s try something different.” Of course, you must be extremely comfortable with your speech in order to make a change midstream (hence the necessity for public speaking tip #5), but doing so will allow you to stretch your public speaking wings and wind up with a better product.

Public Speaking Tip #7:
Use handouts as speech supplements, not speech substitutes.

Are your handouts “upstaging” your speech? Then it’s time to rethink their usage! Either rid yourself of them completely or consider providing them only at the end of your discussion. Otherwise, they could become the “main star” and leave you wondering, “Am I in charge… or are they?”

Public Speaking Tip #8:
Trust yourself.

Finally, always remember that you’re probably better than you give yourself credit for being. Trust your instincts and know that you CAN be a public speaker! The skills needed are learnable, and if you have the drive to become a speech maker, you can achieve your goals.

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