Believe me I know how it feels to perform badly at public speaking. I had to work and learn how to be a better public speaker. For me, it didn’t come naturally at all. I’m a lifelong pianist, songwriter and performer, but honestly live performance was always so hard for me. I’m more naturally comfortable in the recording studio or at home crafting a song for someone else to sing. Having learned the hard way, and the long way, I believe I’m in a position to share effective tips on how to become a better public speaker.
5 Tips on How To Be a Better Public Speaker
- Find a hook – As a songwriter, I’m always looking for a great hook. A speaking presentation needs one too. Do you have a compelling idea to share, expertise that will help others? If you do, think long and hard about how to share your idea or expertise in a different way. Before you pull your speech together, identify what differentiates you. In other words, be yourself and use that to your advantage. Because nobody can be yourself as well as you can!
- Be a subject matter expert – I’ve already mentioned expertise above. But I mentioned that in a broad sense to help you discover your best speaking topic. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to do some real work so you can speak authoritatively on whatever you’re speaking about. Remember…being a subject matter expert implies that you truly understand what you’re talking about. Not just that you’ve memorized some key points or facts. It’s only when we take time to assimilate, experience and internalize knowledge that we can share it in a genuine ‘un-speechy’ way. The best speeches may not sound like what we think of when we hear the word speech. The best speeches sound like someone passionately sharing a story, a hope, or an experience.
- Dig In – After you’ve done the above then you’ll be able to dig in. Digging in means embracing the moment, facing your own hesitation and moving past that. This may be the most important tip on how to be a better public speaker. If you’re standing back, or holding back, your audience will sense it every time. And if you’re merely reciting something you’ve memorized, your audience will hate that. Digging in means allowing yourself to be in the moment, trusting yourself enough to ad-lib and give a responsive speech. This implies that you’re responding to your audience, feeling the room and adjusting as you go.
- Let Go – Letting go is closely tied to digging in. Letting go implies that you’re taking a risk. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, people around us feel that and respond. Vulnerability invites empathy. When a speaker and an audience experience empathy, there’s two way communication that is very powerful. My best speeches have occurred when I’ve let go, made mistakes, even almost embarrassed myself by putting it all out there.
- Bring It Home – My wife and I were watching a movie last night and as the closing scene faded to black I turned to Julie and said, “Huh…is it over, is that it…?”. This is not how you want people to feel when your speech ends. Like every good story, a speech needs a beginning, middle and an end. It’s great to leave people with an exclamation ! a wow. What’s your take-away, your culminating point? Make sure you know that and communicate it well. What’s my take-away here? Hopefully, I’ve taught you something valuable about how to be a better public speaker!