Looking for ways to improve your communication, boost your confidence as a leader, and engage with your organization (and community) on a new level? Public speaking is the answer.
This may not be your favorite form of communication — but by honing your speech skills, you will be able to execute your vision on a larger scale than ever before. The best part? These tips aren’t just for keynote speakers. They’re useful for CEOs, team leaders, and anyone in your organization looking for ways to get meaningful messages across in clear, accessible ways.
Ahead, five ways you can improve your public speaking skills — starting today.
Be a storyteller
The first step on your journey to better public speaking? Stop thinking of yourself as an orator, lecturer, keynote speaker, or whatever the occasion might call for. You’re a storyteller, first and foremost!
According to Jennifer Aaker, a marketing professor at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, stories are more memorable than facts alone — up to 22% more memorable, in fact. That’s significant! Most people probably don’t see themselves as natural public speakers, but we’ve all told a story before: a funny anecdote to a friend, a teaching moment to your child, a spooky tale told around a summer campfire. By tapping into your storyteller side, you can help make the public speaking process a little easier.
Even settings that seem more formal or fact-focused can benefit from story elements. For example, if you’re making a financial presentation, you may be able to illustrate key findings with a story about how they impact your organization on a more personal level. Of course, you don’t need to forego exciting figures and important data entirely — but by bolstering your speech with a humanizing story, you make it that much more powerful!
Be kind… to yourself!
We tend to be our own worst critics, especially when it comes to public speaking. Though this type of communication can be nerve-wracking, it’s helpful to remember that everyone’s been there, in some or another. Look at it this way: when you’re an audience member, are you picking apart every detail about the speaker in front of you? Or, more likely, are you trying to absorb what they say — maybe even getting lost in your own thoughts about your next meeting, or upcoming projects?
The bottom line: no one will ever analyze you quite as much as you analyze you! Once you embrace this, you’ll be able to relax and engage with your audience on a new level.
Keep logistics in mind
It’s easy to forget presentation and technology logistics while you focus on the material of your speech, but this is an important step, too! You don’t need to use props or an elaborate slideshow to make your speech more engaging — but if you find it helpful to illustrate key concepts, you’ll want to ensure that the setting of your speech is compatible with whatever software you decide to use. (The last thing you want before a big speech is technical difficulties!) A few more considerations:
- How easily your presentation flows from point to point
- The amount of information on each slide (it’s best not to “overcrowd” a page, even
- How you plan to speak and control your slideshow at the same time. Don’t be afraid to rehearse this for a smooth presentation day of!
- 93% of communication is non-verbal. Sometimes, it’s less about what you say and more about how you say it!
Know your audience
While certain speech practices work across the board (such as the power of storytelling!), you’ll still want to refine your approach for your specific audience. Consider factors such as:
- Whether you’re speaking virtually or in-person
- The level of formality of your event
- How well you know your audience
- The audience size
Chances are, you’ve been part of many different audiences — keynote speeches, quarterly presentations, school orientations, you name it. Harness these experiences to inform your approach. For example, what did you like (or dislike) about a memorable guest speaker? Where
possible, jot down notes about speeches that captivate you in the moment, so you can employ those strategies when it’s your turn. You’ll thank yourself later!
Knowing your audience is also about making your audience more important than the words you are using. Connect deeply with the audience and they will retain more and be more engaged.
Learn by example
Speaking of speeches that inspire — if you want to seriously expand your communication skills, learn by example! You wouldn’t write a book before reading a few first or make a delicious dessert without embracing your sweet tooth from time to time. The same idea applies to public
speaking. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to access engaging speeches you can learn from, whether you find buzzworthy talks online or welcome a guest speaker to your organization! On that front, Jayson Meyer is more than happy to help.
With experience delivering encouraging, effective messages on a variety of topics — from maximizing revenue to motivating employees — Jayson is ready to support your team and share valuable public speaking insights at the same time! Connect with him today to learn more.