9 Public Speaking Tips That Will Make You The Talk Of The Town
1. True pro’s prepare and practice: Before you step onto the stage. The biggest mistake I see for new speakers is they think if they wing it, they will do better. I thought this too early on. This comes from an inner confidence which is great, but if you wing it long enough, you’ll eventually bomb on a speaking engagement, and it could be the one that was the most important.
As a way of adding value to our rapidly growing audience at USA news, we wanted to highlight public speakers this month and caught up with Wes Bewley, who is based out of Austin, TX to have him share his best tips for public speaking.
This is what he shared:
However, when you prepare a speech: a) You honor your potential & your audience b) It allows you time to insert dynamic stories, jokes, & segue c) It allows you to show up relaxed & confident
When you honor yourself & your audience by preparing, your speech now has the potential to go from good to great.
2. The real connection is formed before and after you speak: Connect beforehand if possible. If it’s a smaller setting, I get there early and try to meet every person in the room (only do-able if under 100), but everyone notices that I am making it a point to meet them and see them beforehand. If I’m able to get to know a few of them, I reference them while I’m talking and feel that it takes my connection with the audience to a new level.
Remember, as a speaker, you are there to serve your audience. I see some speakers get to an event right before they go on and then leave immediately after they are done. Then they wonder why they don’t get rebooked. If you get invited to speak, be present and seek to create a lasting impact both while you’re speaking and when you’re not speaking.
3. Study your audience: Tailor your speech to your audience, considering their age, background, and interests. This will help you connect with them and keep them engaged. Be interested in what they’re interested in. The Apostle Paul was a great speaker because he sought to be all things to all men. Be yourself, but give your audience the gift of relating to them in as many ways as possible.
4. Act out what you are saying: Use gestures, facial expressions, and posture to convey your message and show confidence. This will also help you connect with your audience. Great speakers are great storytellers. When you’re telling a story that supports a point you’re sharing during your speech, act out what you’re saying.
Were you stressed? Show me. Were you sitting on the floor crying? Show me. Were you running around with joy when you hit a goal? Show me.
This tip alone can take your speaking engagements to cosmic levels!
5. Study great speakers, then emulate: Youtube is full of speeches you can review. Study mannerisms, cadence, pace, enunciation, & tone. Notice I’m suggesting that you become a true student of moving audiences and making an impact. If you’re going to speak, why not attempt to become the best speaker who ever lived? Speak clearly and confidently at a moderate pace. Don't rush through your speech or mumble. If you find yourself rushing or mumbling, it’s a clear tell that you are underprepared, and it will make your audience uncomfortable.
6. Utilize visual aids: Such as slides, diagrams, props, or videos that can help reinforce your message and keep your audience engaged. Humans are visual creatures so you cannot use enough visuals without becoming distracting to thoroughly describe your words or set the scene for the imagination of your audience.
7. Speak on a 5th-grade reading level: Most Americans have the equivalent of a 7th or 8th-grade reading level. Medical journals are actually written at this level because they know this. So avoid using slang, jargon, or technical terms that your audience may not understand. Keep your language simple and easy to follow.
I personally love talking in slang & quoting movies, for example, but if your audience hasn't seen the movie you’re referring to, it will kill the vibe. Believe me, I know ;-)
8. Develop nerves of steel: It's normal to feel nervous before a public speaking event. Take deep breaths, visualize a successful presentation, and remind yourself that you are prepared.
I actually think it’s a good sign when you’re nervous because that means you care. This is one of the reasons I suggested getting there early, if possible in Step 2 because knowing as many of the people you’re speaking to beforehand actually helps me calm down and stay relaxed. The more connected you are to your audience, the more at ease you will become.
Remember that all they want is to feel better after you talk. It won’t be as much what you said as it will be how you said it. If you focus on serving them, you’ll have the right spirit and heart when you talk, and it will be a great speech. Make sure to have fun!
9. Give your audience an action step to take at the end: End your speech with a clear message or call to action that leaves a lasting impression on your audience or, better yet, gives them the next action step to take if they want to apply what you’ve discussed.
I sometimes end with an offer to learn more about the subject, get a free e-book that expands on a subject, or attend one of my upcoming workshops.
Some people are worried that it would be rude to offer something at the end, but I actually think it would be rude not to.
Imagine if you told me about a treasure chest you had discovered but didn’t give me the map at the end to go discover it myself. For this reason, if applicable, I like to offer my audiences a parting invitation to continue the dialogue.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to follow me on Instagram @wesbewley, where I share tips like this almost daily.
Remember, public speaking is a skill that can be developed with practice & preparedness.
By following these tips and putting in the effort, you can become a confident and effective public speaker, too. Good luck!
Photo Credit: Ty Jordan and Envato Elements