Just as in any sport, public speaking has a list of fundamentals that must be mastered in order to succeed. Here are our Fundamentals for success:
Most of us prefer to watch a presentation where the speaker is clearly making an effort to connect with the audience. Energy comes out as vocal variety, gestures and facial expression, helping you show passion and gain positive listener response. Energy is also a great mask, effectively covering up nervousness and other distractions.
- Eye Contact
Maintain eye contact with individual audience members long enough to complete your thought (3-5 seconds), rather than shifting your gaze from side to side.
- Facial Expressions
Use smiles, frowns, and other varied expressions to keep your audience engaged. Take a tip from stage actors: bigger audiences call for bigger expressions.
Use natural movements of your arms, hands and body to emphasize your main points. Avoid actions such as pointing, arms crossed or on your hips, or playing with your fingers.
Purposeful movement, such as walking across the stage or stepping forward to approach the audience, helps to create a stronger connection with your listeners. To help avoid nervous rocking or shifting, plant your feet when you’re done moving.
By all means possible, work to eliminate meaningless words (such as umm, OK, uhh, and others) from your presentations. They are extremely distracting to your listeners. SNAP!
Taking short breaks between thoughts helps the audience focus on your message, and also helps the speaker eliminate non-words. Pause early and often, we always say!
- Speaking Pace
Should you speak quickly or slowly? Both, if you want to hold your audience’s attention for your entire presentation. Speed helps convey passion and excitement, while slowing down helps people focus on main points and big ideas. Just not TOO quickly or slowly!