There are many cases during your life where you might have to speak in front of a group of people.You might be a politician with a speech on the docket, you might have to do a speech in your college class, or maybe you just want to read a poem in front of a crowd of strangers and friends at an open mic night.
Whatever has you getting up in front of a crowd and talking, there are things you can do to make sure you're a master of the art of public speaking.
13 Tips on Mastering the Art of Public Speaking
Speaking in front of people is easy for some people, and extremely difficult for others.
For people that naturally feel at ease talking in groups of people, these tips are probably already ingrained in their biology. For people that don't speak well or suffer from stage fright, these tips will help you master the art of public speaking.
You'll be able to get on stage and speak with ease – you just need to know how to have confidence in yourself and the words you're saying. Here are some speaking tips that will help you do that:
1. Know Your Audience
Who are you speaking to? Obviously, if you're reading a poem at open mic night, you're reading to a group of like-minded individuals that want to hear your heart inside your art.If you're reading a paper in class, you are reading to other people that have to do the same thing.
However, if you'rereading a speech to gain a seat in a political office or something similar, you need to know your audience – you need to know what they stand for, who they are, and why they're there listening to you. If you're speaking at a wedding or some other family event, you can get wild.
When you know your audience, you know how funny or serious you can be. You'll know what to say to get their attention and make them listen. You'll also be able to tell when they've lost interest and easily change your speech to bring them back in.
2. Find Your Style
Some speakers are great at serious topics, while others excel when they can have some comedic effect to what they have to say. Learn what you're best at and play on that.Just remember, some events might take you out of your comfort zone – so be prepared.
It's also important,once you've found your style, to make sure that you write your speeches in your style – which will make them easier to read. This will make it easier to read and memorize your speech.
3. Know the Material
Speaking of memorizing your speech – you need to know your material (backward and forward).Not only do you need to know your speech itself, but you also need to know what you're talking about.
Know the subject matter, and if you don't – learn it. Do some research so that you can answer questions people might have after (or during) your speech. One good rule to remember is to never ask a question within your speech that you don't have the answer to – and always answer the question after you ask it.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
You need to practice your speech as much and as often as you can. You want to be able to read it like it's absolutely natural – even if you're not intending to fully memorize it.You want your speech to be muscle memory – just like if you exercise on a daily basis.
Practicing also helps you with the tone and speed at which you read your speech. Practice while you're cooking, riding in the car, in the shower, or any other time when you can have your speech up near you (this is a good time to practice memorizing at least some of it as well, so you don't have to stare at a piece of paper the entire time you're giving the speech).
5. Make Eye Contact
Your audience wants to know that you're talking to them. This is why you cannot keep your nose buried in your speech papers – memorize what you can and just use your notes for backup.
In a huge crowd, it will be difficult to cover all eyes, but you can pick a section to look toward, and then move your eyes to another section so that everyone feels like they're being spoken to and acknowledged.
6. Pay Attention to Your Body Language
You don't just need to speak clearly and confidently – you need to look confident too. You can get a start by using a mirror when you practice your speech. This lets you see your facial expressions, practice what to do with your hands, and more.
Body language is a very common form of nonverbal communication that is almost as important as your actual words. What your face says when you're reading your speech will say a lot to the people you're talking to.
7. Know Your Environment
It can add to your confidence to know the environment in the place where you're speaking. Get there early so that you have a chance to get the lay of the land. Test the mic and walk the stage.
8. Practice with Distractions
Someone is bound to forget to turn their phone off. People are going to talk while you're trying to speak. Practicing your speech with distractions will challenge you, and it will help you be prepared for actual distractions.
9. Speak Slower (Don't Be in a Hurry)
Don't rush through your speech – take your time so that people can take in all that you have to say.
One great thing that will help you slow down is taking a pause now and then. People have a tendency to talk faster when they're nervous, but if you're confident in your speech and your words you'll be able to speak more slowly and clearly.
10. Practice Tone and Projection
You need to make sure that people can hear what you are saying. In order to do that, you need to work on the tone of your voice and how you are projecting your voice.
Make sure, even if you momentarily feel less confident (maybe it looks like people aren't listening), that you keep your tone even throughout to ensure people hear and understand every word you say.
11. Use Humor and Emotion (Where Applicable)
Instill emotion in your speech. If you're reading a poem, put the emotion into your reading that you put into writing the poem. If it's a speech, put the emotion in that it calls for.
You may also want to add some humor into your speech. If you're talking about something serious, skip the humor.
12. Be Confident
By following all of the tips you've already read above, you're already building up your confidence.You need to speak with authority and look as though you're completely comfortable behind that microphone.
While you don't have to be stalwart at open mic night, more people will listen if they see that you're comfortable talking in the mic.
13. Know Your Time Limits
Know how long you have to speak before you even write your speech. You want a speech that stays within the allotted time – which is another reason you need to practice your speech.
It's better to run a little short than to go over your time. Running overtime is disrespectful to the person putting on the event and to the people that were expecting you to be done talking five minutes ago.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Feedback
When you practice your speech in front of your friends and family, get their feedback. It might be hard to hear about your mistakes, but knowing them will help you fix them.Your “reviewers” will let you know if you're speaking too fast or if you'remixing up words.
It can be extremely helpful to ask for feedback from event planners on your speeches as well. They've seen a lot of speeches – they'll know what inspires crowds and what doesn't.
Final Thoughts on the Art of Public Speaking
Public speaking is definitely an art, and if you want to master the art of public speaking, you'll need to do a lot of it. Practice makes perfect, and you shouldn't only be practicing in your own home. You need to get practice in front of actual people every chance you get.
The better you become at public speaking, the more opportunities you'll have.