I know I’ve done writing tips and advice in the past. But today I want to do something different. I gave a presentation today, so I figured why not give you some speech tips?
Many people are uncomfortable with public speaking. It doesn’t bother me because I’ve been doing it for so long, but I still get nervous too. The key is not to let your nerves stop you. So here are the list of tips and tricks that I adopt anytime I’m giving a speech:
- Dress up- I ALWAYS feel better about something when I look nice. When I know I look nice, I know people aren’t distracted by what I’m wearing. Personally, if I don’t dress up, I feel like people are judging me because I don’t look put together.
- Make eye contact with EVERYONE- Don’t exclude a section of your room. I basically act like a sprinkler. I roam my eyes from one corner to the other corner and back the other way. By making eye contact, you are including your audience in your presentation/speech. This means they’re going to be more attentive to what you have to say. And if you don’t like making eye contact, I have a hack for you. Look at your audience’s ears. Ears are the same level as eyes, and people will not notice you aren’t making eye contact.
- Watch your words- In everyday conversations, I say “like, um, and so” pretty often as filler words. I have to watch that in speeches though. If you start repeating filler words all the time, your audience is going to latch onto that rather than the content of your speech. I think I had a friend who told me that they listened to a sermon once and after EVERY sentence, the pastor would say “Amen.” So then it would be like “Jesus died on the cross Amen. And that was really sad Amen.” Personally, I would be so annoyed. I’m not saying you have to eliminate those filler words entirely, just watch and monitor them.
- Body language- Your body says a lot that your words won’t. Keep your shoulders back. Look up. Stand firmly (don’t bounce). Pacing is sometimes fine as long as it’s not excessive. Keep your hands down unless gesturing, which brings me to my next point:
- Gestures- Gestures can improve any speech if done properly. I talk with my hands a lot and naturally move my hands. There can be nothing wrong with that if done properly. For the most part when you make a gesture, keep your elbows pressed against your body. Gestures should be above the waist and below the shoulders. Abiding by these guidelines creates a box in a sense for acceptable gestures. Too low, and people won’t see them. Too high or wide will be distracting.
- Project your voice- Don’t yell. But make your voice loud enough to be heard from every corner of the room. I did speeches in junior high and high school. In that time, I had a couple different speech coaches. I remember one of them would have me stand at the opposite end of the room from her and give my speech. If I talked too fast (see next point) or was too quiet, she would tell me to stop and have me start over. I was really annoyed with it at the time, but I definitely see the benefit.
- Speak slower than you think you need to- You talk faster in front of people. Nerves make your voice speed up. Trust me, this is probably what I am most guilty of. I have to constantly remind myself to slow down. When I feel like I am talking too slowly, I am usually speaking at just the right speed.
- Don’t swallow your words- I’m guilty of this too. When we end sentences, it is natural to kind of cut off the last word so people know the phrase is over. Don’t do that when giving a speech. Maintain the same level of volume for your first word as well as your last. On that note…
- BREATHE!!!!- It’s okay to pause for breaths. As a joke, when I’m listening to a video or something where the person is talking really fast, I take a huge dramatic breath (almost like a gasp), to make a mention of breathing. (I don’t do it in actual presentations. I’m not a jerk.) Take pauses and breaths. It’s okay.
- Lastly, be confident (or act confident)- More than likely, you are more knowledgable about your speaking topic than your audience. They won’t know if you don’t know something unless you make it obvious. Very rarely are speeches impromptu. You’ve probably thought about your words and done some sort of preparation for what you’re going to say. Act like it! Nerves happen to just about everyone. Work through them and know that you got this!!
I hope these tips help you! I’ve got lots of speech training under my belt, and I have done well at speeches and presentations because of it. Nerves happen and that’s okay. Start implementing these tips and watch your speeches improve!