If you ask any entrepreneur, they will quickly tell you that public speaking is a great way to quickly grow your business. The reason why it’s such a powerful marketing tool is because it instantly establishes you as an expert in your industry and you are able to make better connections when you are speaking to a live audience.
However, most new business owners have never truly learned how to speak in public. Granted, it does take a great deal of practice and the ability to overcome your fear of standing in front of a live audience. But once you are able to get the hang of it, you will see that the return on investment is well worth it. Here are four speaking tips that can help you with your next presentation:
- Using Gestures
The first tip is on gestures. Many people seem to be self-conscious about their hand gestures. The best advice for this problem is to just be yourself. Relax and do what you would normally do when having a conversation. Most likely, your natural gestures are enough and you’re just being overly cautious.
“One thing to avoid however, is becoming gesture-oriented and losing focus of your words” says John Rogan of MotivationalSpeakerz.com. “Always remember that your words are more important than your gestures”.
- Handling Questions
The second of the two public speaking tips is on handling questions. Sometimes you might have people in the audience who like to abruptly raise questions and interrupt your speech or presentation. There are a few ways to combat this:
- One, before you begin to speak, you can ask the audience to raise their hands if they have a question or hold all questions until the end.
- Two, you can admit that you don’t know the answer to their question, but you’ll find out. And three, you can just ask the questioner to come to you later during a break. Most audiences will be polite and listen to you without interrupting, but occasionally you get people who just seem to have a question about everything and it can become annoying and stressful. Have a course of action planned for these situations and don’t be caught off guard.
Public speaking has its share of challenges, but with the right mindset, you can overcome those challenges and become a great presenter.
- Live Audience
When you are up in front of an audience speaking, there are a few strategies that you should use to be effective. The point is not to stand there and simply throw words out into the air-your purpose is to make your attendees listen, absorb your message and leave with valuable take-aways from your speech.
When you are speaking to a crowd, you have to stand up. When you stand your voice projects further across the audience, whether you are using a microphone or not. When you stand it also helps to establish you as the expert or authority in the room.
When you are standing behind a podium, do your best to keep still. Do not fidget and move around unnecessarily because this could disrupt the flow of your words and make you seem less professional to your audience. The only exception should be if you are coming out from behind the podium to talk (the way that motivational speakers do) or to distribute something to the listeners.
While it is best to speak from memory, it is helpful to have a few notecards to help guide you when you are speaking. The notecards should not contain your speech word by word, or else you will be tempted to simply read from them. Instead, jot down quick notes and bullet points that will help jog your memory during the speech.
Gather Your Thoughts
Don’t be afraid to pause in the midst of your speech to gather your thoughts. The pause shouldn’t be too long-no longer than about five seconds-or else your audience will start to wonder what is going on. After five seconds, you have to either move onto another subject, ask for questions, or tell your audience that you need to come back to that point. Don’t ever start to talk without knowing exactly what you plan to say.
- A Tip to Help You While Speaking
Give your audience reading materials to go with the speech to help alleviate your nerves when speaking. You will notice that most if not all eyes will at least briefly go to the paper. This will continue to happen throughout your speech. This is a good thing as long as the audience members are periodically listening to your words in addition to scanning the paper.