When I was in high school I was a total nerd. And I mean a really big nerd, for reference I was literally captain of the speech and debate team and I enjoyed waking up at 6:00 am every Saturday to compete in academic competitions. Yeah, I was that caliber of a nerd. But, despite making some of my best friends and favorite memories with this team I was also learning a lot about how to be a public speaker, a skill that I don’t think I fully understood the importance of having until later.
Now, I think all of us can recite some version of the typical public speaking tips everyone hears, “maintain eye contact, use pauses, don’t squirm, don’t say ‘um’” etc. and while these are definitely important things to keep in mind here are some of what I believe to be some the lesser known public speaking tips.
This concept can sometimes be hard to comprehend from just reading about it but you know it exactly when you see it. We can all probably think back to a time where a presenter started out being really engaging and entertaining but then they just kind of fell off. This is most likely someone losing their energy in the middle of a speech.
It’s key to make sure that you maintain passion for what you’re talking about throughout so that your audience will stay engaged and responsive for the duration of your presentation. In my experience, the best way to make sure you keep this passion is to practice over and over again. And then film yourself to see where the passion drops off and then fix it from there. If you’re able to maintain enthusiasm throughout an entire presentation you’ll soon find that you get a much better reaction from the crowd.
I touched on this a little in the above tip, but if you record yourself giving a presentation you will be utterly shocked by all of the things you unconsciously do in front of a crowd. This was something we were required to do on the speech and debate team in high school and it always helped everyone improve drastically. And even though watching a recording of yourself is usually painful it really will drastically improve how you present yourself and how you speak in front of an audience. After all, you can’t fix problems you aren’t aware of.
Make use of Purposeful Movements
When I was younger my dad used to tell me that, “when giving a speech your arms should hang their like dead soldiers,” which I later learned was not the best advice (sorry dad). However, the other extreme of this, fidgeting and squirming around a lot, is also not ideal. What’s important is to use purposeful movements in your presentations. For instance if you’re outlining three main points in a speech actually hold up one, two and three fingers. Or, to denote a change in topic try moving to the other side of the room to physically show this difference. Purposeful movements like these really help to make a speech look well-rehearsed and leave a lasting impact.
If you try implementing some of these seldom heard speaking tips you may be surprised to see the greater impact your next presentation will have.