“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” Mark Twain
Tips for Public Speaking and Presenting
If the idea of delivering a speech to an audience makes your palms sweat, hopefully, you can find some reassurance that you’re not the only one who has this reaction. Research indicates that one in five people experience public speaking anxiety.
Here’s the good news: other studies have found that, with the right strategies, you can still perform well when you have a public speaking engagement or presentation of any sort.
Let’s check these 5 tips you can take to prepare and improve your skills.
1- Forget your accent, speak slowly, improve your pronunciation
Rather than working on reducing your accent, work on improving your pronunciation. Mainly at the beginning, we need to give the audience time to adapt to our accents. Speaking slowly is essential to connect with your audience and give them a better sense of credibility and confidence.
How fast are you speaking? To know that, record yourself on video or audio as you’re giving a practice session —or better yet, record yourself giving a real presentation at work.
Then listen to it to see how you come across to an audience. There’s often a gap between how we think we look and sound and how we look.
2- Add PEP to your presentation
Once you know your baseline, it’s time to add PEP: Pace check, Enunciation, and Pausing.
Learn to internalize what a good pace sounds like and how it feels in your body. So use your video and your audio to figure out your pace check. Get a sense of what a good pace feels like in your body so that you can use a pace check when you’re presenting.
Enunciation means you’re crisply pronouncing every syllable of each word. Picture them in bold, italic font instead of rushing through your key phrases. That’s your signal to slow down and enunciate each syllable. Leave space between syllables and give each word some breathing room.
Pausing is necessary for two reasons: One, it’s a chance for you to do your pace check and reset your pace. Two, it’s a chance for people to digest what you’re saying. Instead of rushing from one thought to the next, let there be a moment of silence as you transition between ideas.
Remember, you’ve heard this material a million times while practicing, but your audience hears your talk for the first time. Your listeners need pauses to process all this new information.
Pauses also give you time to think and have a break. Take three or four seconds to plan what you’re going to say next and then you can be confident in your delivery.
3- Avoid sounding like a robot reciting text
You can tell when somebody has rehearsed a presentation and when they’ve memorized a presentation. The difference is that a practiced presentation is organic, genuine, flowing, and trustworthy, and a memorized presentation is stagnant and not interesting. So, practice, practice, practice, and practice. Each time you deliver your speech, you will become more comfortable, increasing your confidence when delivering your speech.
4- Incorporate visual prompts
If the idea of having all eyes on you makes you nervous, visual prompts are an excellent way to divert the audience’s attention yet still stay on topic. These prompts can be a slide of an image or graph or something more concrete, such as pouring a half glass of water to emphasize the effect of “living with your glass half full.” It might feel good to have their attention diverted, even if only for a moment. Plus, it gives you something to do with your hands.
Remember the 10-20-30 Rule for Slideshows:
Contain no more than 10 slides;
Last no more than 20 minutes; and
Use a font size of no less than 30 points.
This last is particularly important as it stops you from trying to put too much information on anyone’s slide.
As a general rule, slides should be the sideshow to you, the presenter. A good set of slides should be of no use without the presenter, and they should contain less, rather than more, information, expressed simply.
5- Be aware of your body language
Some people naturally speak with their hands. When nervous, this type of gesturing can ramp up. While some hand movement is great for emphasizing certain points, it’s important not to let these movements distract from what you’re trying to say. So, pay attention to your hands when speaking. Their movement may also help slow down your brain, creating a greater sense of calm.
Make sure that you are giving the right messages. Make your gestures open and confident, and move naturally around the stage and among the audience too, if possible.
Avoid includes crossed arms, hands held behind your back or in your pockets, and pacing the stage.
⚠️ There’s a complete module on PRESENTATIONS in my FOCUS – Business English Program. ⚠️
If you want to know more, join the waitlist here:
WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣
📌Reassurance: the action of removing someone’s doubts or fears.
📌Anxiety: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
📌 Body language: the process of communicating nonverbally through conscious or unconscious gestures and movements.
📌Calmness: the state or quality of being free from agitation or strong emotion.
📌Transition: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
PHRASAL VERBS ✍
📌Slow down: to be less active and relax more.
“The doctor has told him to slow down or he’ll have a heart attack.”
📌Speak out of turn: to say something inappropriate.
“I don’t want to speak out of turn, but I really feel this wedding is a mistake.”
📌Gift of the gab: the ability to speak freely and fluently about a certain topic.
📌Talk until one is blue in the face: talk to people without listening or paying attention.
📌 Effective Oral Presentations for Non-Native English Speakers https://www.englishpriority.com/effective-oral-presentations-for-non-native-english-speakers/
📌 How to Improve your English Pronunciation https://www.englishpriority.com/how-to-improve-your-english-pronunciation/
📌 General English vs Business English https://www.englishpriority.com/general-english-vs-business-english/
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