Ten tips for smoother public speaking
When you have a presentation to give, do you spend more time preparing the content, or practising your delivery in front of a mirror? The impact of communication can be measured in the following way: seven per cent is determined by content, 55 per cent by body language, and 38 per cent by your voice. These are the findings of eminent educational psychologist Albert Mehrabian.
Content is crucial, of course, but remember that presentation techniques—how you communicate words—accounts for 93 per cent of the impression you make. My top tip is: once you have prepared a presentation, spend time on how you present—your voice and body language will count. In addition, consider the following...
1. Research your audience. Study a brand and understand its values. What are people expecting from you?
2. Send out three messages. Begin powerfully, deliver the three key points, and then finish your speech memorably.
3. Body language. Smile, make eye contact and use gestures. Good posture conveys a sense of personal power and it communicates confidence.
4. Voice counts for 38 per cent of impact. Variation of pitch adds colour to a voice. Pace your delivery-move quickly through unimportant words and phrases and slow down vital ones.
5. First impressions count. Clothing has a language and is a key part of your message. It takes seven seconds to make a first impression. What you wear says something about you. Your introduction is paramount.
6. Connect with your audience. People respond positively when you are authentic, so be yourself. There is a difference between impressing and connecting. Audiences retain 80 per cent of material from being actively involved. Asking a question is a good way to kick things off. Or perhaps you could think about an interactive activity at the start.
7. Warm up. This helps to focus mind and body before you speak. Turn off your mobile phone and set aside 10 to 20 minutes of undisturbed time in advance of the speech.
8. Know the subject matter. Pinpoint ideas you want to communicate-they will be easier to memorise than words. Using bullet points helps you learn the structure. It is easier to remember stories, so tell anecdotes. And don't simply read your presentation-take your eyes off the page.
9. Believe in yourself. Change your state of mind if you are feeling negative about giving the presentation.
10. Rehearse. First, practise in front of a mirror, and then take a risk by presenting to someone you trust. A rehearsal gives you a great sense of confidence.
Maggie Eyre is a professional presentation coach and author of Speak in Public With Confidence