How to Improve your Public Speaking Skills

Posted by Tasnim Ahmed

As many great entrepreneurs have proven time and time again, “oration is an art form.” This is particularly true if you’re speaking in public for the purpose of business. Your ability to address a group can impact your ventures, from pitching an idea to investors to interacting with industry stalwarts, visionaries, peers and future leaders.

For business owners, veterans and aspiring entrepreneurs, the ability to communicate, speak confidently and build a connection with your audience is an essential skill that needs to be mastered.

The art of public speaking doesn’t always come naturally, but can be developed and honed. To take your business further and reach your goals, you need to be an excellent orator or a speaker who can clearly communicate and engage with the group that you’re addressing.

A good speech by anyone, anywhere, can benefit from a few key pointers, which you can find below.

#Knowledge

Subject matter knowledge is something that has no alternative. A speaker gains confidence, authority, command of an audience and respect only when it’s obvious that they know what they are talking about. Always know your subject, research it, study it, and keep asking yourself questions that will or might be asked. Be aware and prepared. There are no shortcuts for this — knowledge is the key.

#Confidence

Confidence is imperative when speaking publicly. An insecure demeanor might lead to a distracted audience, so make it clear from your body language and speaking style that you know what you’re talking about. A confident attitude will not only get you the attention you deserve, but also the respect that your hard work and persona entails. Think about speakers you admire, from Richard Branson to Mark Cuban, and study their style to get a feel for why they get your attention.

#Engaging Your Audience

Public speaking isn’t the only area where this is true: People crave attention. If in a room of a few hundred, you make each person feel that you are talking to them personally, you can make a bigger impact and a lasting impression. Share personal stories that might resonate with them, walk into the audience if you can and pursue other strategies that are comfortable to you so you make deeper connections.

#Passion

It's important to convey the passion that you have about a particular subject, and if it shows through enough, you can convey it to the audience so they feel it as well. If you have passion for your subject in your voice, actions and thoughts, your battle is already half won. The late Steve Jobs was one such personality who made sure that his passion for his products was felt by everyone in his organization, consumers and aficionados alike.

#Cadence

Your body posture will help determine your speech tempo and effectiveness. A slouching body can lead to an unimpressive and boring talk. But if your body language and your words show that you're excited and enthusiastic about the subject matter, that will also come through in your words.

In addition, to keep your audience engaged, you should avoid being preachy, patronizing and using unwarranted humor and inappropriate language.

Ralph C. Smedley, the founder of Toastmaster International, once said, “A speech without a specific purpose is like a journey without a destination.” Make sure your destination is clear when you’re speaking to an audience and you’ll be more likely to shine.

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