Public Speaking Tips

Ah, public speaking! It’s like riding a bike - practice makes perfect! I’m learning the art of public speaking and wanted to share my quirky tips with you to help you feel like you’re giving a TED talk!

Your mirror is your new best friend.

If you want to be good at public speaking, you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. So, start talking to yourself in front of the mirror - Sims style. I wish I could say I was kidding, but I do this when I practice a speech. That way, I’m able to see my body language and whether or not I’m talking with my hands.

Also, practice in your car.

I used to rehearse responses to job interview questions in the car. You can talk out loud, and no one can hear you mess up. Plus, to everyone around you during your commute, for all they know you’re on the phone!

Show those pearly whites!

You have a beautiful smile. Use it! You will feel way more confident and happy about talking if you smile while you do it.

Project!

No, not a project - PROJECT! Don’t be timid. Talk loud for the people in the back. Get up there and show them you’re not afraid to get loud and you’re passionate about the subject at hand!

Time yourself.

Since you’re going to be talking to yourself in the mirror and talking to yourself in the car, you might as well time yourself. Break it down into sections or answers to questions and see how long it takes you to cover an idea. If it’s too long, you’re rambling and you can make it more concise. You’ll also start to notice the more you practice, the less likely you’ll say “like” or “um” because your brain is already processing what’s coming next. You’ll cut back on the amount of time it takes to articulate your response.

Hold up, wait a minute!

Pause! No one will know that it’s not intentional. You are allowed to stop what you’re saying and collect your thoughts, get a drink of water, blow your nose - whatever you’ve got to do to get back on track. If you notice you’re rushing, take a deep breath and a few seconds to gather your thoughts. It’s completely natural to pause.

Don’t hide behind the podium.

The podium is there for a crutch. Get out in front of that thing and show off your shoes! Walk around. Get a clicker and utilize the entire stage. No one is going to throw a tomato at you so don’t be afraid to get out there. This will stop you from fidgeting or swaying because you can take out your urge to move by walking. Plus, you can get a better view of the audience engagement.

Call people out!

Now that you can see the audience, look at the people you know out there and literally call them out. Use their name and talk about how it’s applicable to them. Use real life examples. Or ask them a question so you can take a minute to have a break. The people around them are now going to perk up because they’re thinking, oh shoot! Is she going to call on me? Captivate them and make them think you crafted the presentation specifically for them to get value out of it.

Pretend like your slides aren’t there.

What if the computer crashed or the wifi wasn’t working? Don’t let your presentation be a crutch either. The slides are supplemental. Act like you can give it without them even there because at the end of the day, whatever is up there should only further enhance what you have to say.

Wear a turtleneck.

I get all embarrassed and blotchy. I feel it start at my chest and go all the way up to my cheeks. My pro tip is to wear a turtleneck when you’re presenting. People get it - it’s hard to get up in front of a crowd and be passionate about something when they’re all just sitting there staring at you. If you break out, that’s 100% fine because everyone empathizes with you.

Remember, people aren’t there to criticize your speaking skills - they’re there to hear what you have to say. Unless, of course, it’s a speech class and they actually are there to criticize your public speaking skills :) But it’s a good thing you’re prepared!

Happy talking!