The best public speakers do a lot of things well. They also have a lot in common. What are some of the most important skills you need to succeed on the big stage? Here are some of the public speaking skills that I have deemed to be most important and effective for communication a message, regardless of audience size or stature. Consider each of these as another arrow in your quiver of powerful public speaking strategies.
- Establish clear goals – Delivering an impactful presentation depends on having a clear goal in mind. What is it that you want your audience to know? Most audiences only retain a small percentage of what they’re told so focus on a primary message and make an impact.
- Effective use of data and facts – Having third party validation of your idea can go a long way. Leverage the power of third party data or documented facts to make your point. The more third party validation you integrate, the more convincing you become.
- Master the art of storytelling– The best public speakers are often those who can tell a really good story. Stories engage us and help to connect the spoken work to emotion. If you’re not that good at storytelling, practice it. Effective storytelling is a great way to make an impact.
- Speak Dynamically. How many times have you listened to a speaker who virtually bored you to tears? Was it because the subject matter was boring or that the speaker was mono-toned? Vary your pitch, tone, and speaking volume if you want to engage your audience and make things interesting. Speaking in the same tone, droning on and on, doesn’t get anyone excited.
- Use your Body – Don’t just speak, move. Hiding behind a podium or standing in one place makes for a pretty boring presentation. Just because you should never turn your back on an audience doesn’t mean that you can’t move around. Use your entire body, not just your mouth, to deliver a meaningful presentation.
- Be Aware of your Surroundings – It’s always a good thing ahead of time to check out the room where you’ll be presenting. If you’ll be using AV equipment, give it a thorough test before you step on stage. This can put your mind at ease and help you avoid any unforeseen technical issues.
- Make a Connection with your Audience – Make sure to include your entire audience in your presentation. Some speakers tend to favor one or two individuals. That’s okay as long as you aren’t excluding a larger group. Gaze across the audience from time to time, left to right, and front to back. By including everyone, even periodically throughout the audience, each person becomes more engaged.
- Timing is Everything – If you’ve rehearsed your presentation numerous times, then you have a really good sense of how long it takes to deliver from start to finish. Make sure your speech is within given time constraints. People value their time above all else so don’t abuse it.
- Nail Down your Introduction – Start off on the right foot. The introduction can be one of the most important aspects of your entire presentation. Write, modify, and rehearse your introduction or opening statements again and again. Once you start strong, the remainder of your presentation becomes less difficult.
- Believe in yourself – Building up a positive mindset in your abilities takes time and practice, but it’s essential. Know that you can deliver your material and expect the audience to love you. That’s right, expect the positive. The worst thing that can happen is that someone asks you a question or makes a comment you can’t respond to. Plead the 5th or simply say, “I’ll have to get back to you” and move on.
- Give People a Way to Contact you – I like the personal approach. At the end of each presentation I give people a chance to reach out to me via email, phone, or social media. Include contact details on your last slide so people don’t feel like you’ve left them hanging on a thread.
There are a variety of skills and techniques that effective speakers use on a regular basis. The eleven I just shared with you are some of the skills I personally worked to develop over the past few years of my speaking career and they’ve made an impact. Build on those I’ve presented here and build your own list of powerful speaking skills.