As you look out into the crowd, a sea of eager faces stares back, ready for you to shock, educate, or inspire them.
This is the often-terrifying reality of public speaking — something many of us avoid at all costs.
However, at least some public speaking is required in almost every profession — so you should take the time to master it, writes Alex Malley, chief executive at CPA Australia, in a recent LinkedIn post. “Become good at it and your career will benefit,” says Malley, who spent 20 years giving university lectures. “It is worth a bit of pain and it will open up your life.”
Public speaking doesn’t have to be a point of stress. Deliver a strong presentation to a rapt audience once, and not only will it boost your confidence in your public speaking abilities, it will propel you to deliver a winning speech every time.
To get started, here are three of Malley’s top tips for conquering your fear of public speaking:
1. Be concise.
An engaged audience is a friendly audience, and a friendly audience makes the speaker’s job much less stressful. To keep your audience intrigued throughout your presentation, never let them get bored. No matter how interesting the topic is to you, audience members will get bored if you cover the same subject for too long, so keep it succinct. “Cover a topic just enough to pique the audience’s curiosity — less is always more,” Malley says.
2. Know your audience.
Knowing your audience actually cares about what you have to say will help keep your nerves at bay, so make the presentation personal and customised to each crowd. “Do your homework,” Malley says. “Never has it been easier to access information about your awaiting audience or the organisations they work for.” Find a way to connect what you’re saying with an issue they care about.
3. Rehearse out loud.
Providing too much detail is the easiest way to lose an audience, Malley says. To prevent yourself from falling down this rabbit-hole, Malley recommends making an outline of your three to five main points, and connecting these into a flowing conversation by rehearsing out loud. When you hear what you’re saying as you plan the speech, you’ll recognise if one portion drags on too long.
Other tips: Start on a good note, and prepare for the worst, he says. Make sure your introduction grabs the audience’s attention, because this first impression is crucial in getting them to relate to you and listen to what you’re saying. And, finally, brainstorm any worst-case scenarios ahead of time, and create fallback plans for each, he concludes.
Click here to read the full LinkedIn post.
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