Public speaking is something a lot of us dread – it doesn’t matter how successful you are or how good you are at your job, the thought of standing up in front of a room full of people and delivering a speech can be daunting.
Liz Kentish, Managing Director of people development firm Kentish and Co, spoke exclusively to Business Grapevine to give her top four pieces of advice on how to overcome your nerves and deliver a top notch speech.
“Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past week, you will have no doubt watched at least one of the Obama’s, Trump’s or Meryl’s speeches,” she commented. “All of the aforementioned took centre stage last week to speak to hundreds upon thousands of people, from all pockets of the globe. The pressure to get their personal messages across to such large audiences would’ve been no easy feat.”
In light of this eclectic mix of speeches, here’s Kentish’s advice on how to deliver a memorable and captivating presentation while maintaining poise, grace and respect.
1. Lead with stories
“Martin Luther King Day also happened to fall in the days following these momentous speeches,” explained Kentish.
“Supreme public speaker and activist, he is no doubt remembered by most for his iconic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, which he gave in 1963. Perhaps one of the reasons this speech is imprinted so strongly on the minds of citizens is because he made it so relatable and human. Drawing on the dream analogy, King made his speech accessible to everyone and immediately captured attention and hearts. Using anecdotes and real life examples in your speeches, or presentations, shows people that you’re on the same level, giving them real reason to believe in what you’re saying.”
2. Know your audience
“Whether you’re speaking in front of a collection of colleagues, a conference hall full of strangers, a room full of award-winning actors or in front of the entire nation and then some, you need to know your audience. Think about why your audience is there and why they should be listening to you.
“What is it that they are hoping to learn, what do you want to teach them and how can you connect with them in the best way possible. Being confident in the fact that you are going to deliver something that is useful to your audience will in turn boost your own confidence and conviction.”
3. Get your body language down to a T
“The power of public speaking is immeasurable and goes way beyond just the words printed upon your cue card. Most experts agree that over 50% of our communication is made up of body language. With this in mind, it pays to make sure that you stand up straight, keep eye contact with your audience and, either adopt an open stance or keep moving around the stage.
“If you’re nervous, this can be obvious and come across in how you present yourself. Have a glass of water at the ready, remember to breathe and take your time.”
4. Allow emotion
“Don’t be afraid to use emotive language to communicate your message and your passion; public speaking after all is about informing, persuading and entertaining. Conversely, letting your audience see your own emotion is equally as effective.
“Permit your passion and enthusiasm to show through, either in your tone of voice or in your demeanour and you’ll find that people connect with you and your mission, making your speech memorable and compelling.”
This article originally appeared in Business Grapevine.