There are thousands of tips on how to be a great speaker: from contemporary technology trends, to being your authentic self on stage, to how to make friends while networking and influence large audiences.
But sometimes, as speakers, we need to go back to the basics: what are the building blocks of a great talk?
We recently stumbled on this fantastic article “10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills” by Harvard University lecturer, Marjorie L. North, and we love it because it cover so many great ideas succinctly.
We’ve summarized the article, and made a visual guide to share the best ideas with you.
Tip 1: Nervousness is normal. Practice and prepare.
Nerves are good. The adrenaline rush makes you more alert and ready to give your best performance.
Overcome anxiety by preparing.
Take the time to go over your notes several times. Once you have become comfortable with the material, practice—a lot.
Tip 2: Know your audience. Your speech is about them, not you.
Learn as much about your listeners as you can.
This will help you determine your choice of words, level of information, and organization pattern.
Tip 3: Organize your material in the most effective manner to attain your purpose.
Create the framework: Write down the topic, general purpose, specific purpose, central idea, and main points
Grab the audience’s attention in the first 30 seconds.
Tip 4: Watch for feedback. Adapt to it.
Gauge the reactions of your audience, adjust your message.
Delivering a canned speech will guarantee that you lose the attention of or confuse even the most devoted listeners.
Tip 5: Let your personality come through.
You will establish better credibility if your personality shines through.
Your audience will trust what you have to say if they can see you as a real person.
Tip 6: Use humor. Tell stories. Use effective language.
Inject a funny anecdote or story in your presentation, and you will certainly grab your audience’s attention.
Tip 7: Don’t read unless you have to. Work from an outline.
Reading from a script or slide fractures the interpersonal connection. Maintain eye contact with the audience.
Keep the focus on yourself and your message.
Tip 8: Use your voice and hands effectively. Omit nervous gestures.
Good delivery does not call attention to itself, but instead conveys the speaker’s ideas clearly and without distraction.
Tip 9: Grab attention at the beginning, and close with a dynamic end.
Start with a startling statistic, an interesting anecdote, or concise quotation.
End your talk with a summary and a strong statement that your audience will remember.
Tip 10: Use audiovisual aids wisely.
Too many visuals can break your connection to the audience.
Use them sparingly.
They should enhance, clarify your content, or capture and maintain your audience’s attention.
Good communication is never perfect—and nobody expects you to be perfect.
However, putting in the requisite time to prepare will help you deliver a better presentation.
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