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Get On the Public Speaking Treadmill: Shaping Up Your Speech

So you’ve polished your content to near-perfection. Now comes the tricky part – how do you sell your pitch? Delivery often serves as the presenter’s Achilles heel. Even the most experienced public speakers need practice every now and then.

Fortunately, public speaking skills can improve over time through proper training and determination. Speech training is available for professionals who want to develop their speaking skills.

But if you’re on a budget, here are three ways you can practice at home:

1. Explain Yourself

Put aside your big ideas for a second and focus on improving your thought process. Renowned speaker and professional public speaking coach Brian Tracy provides tips on how to reduce public speaking anxiety focusing on organizing your thoughts away from fear of rejection to positivity and achieving your goal.

Among the positive ways Tracy cited on his personal blog to overcoming the fear of facing a live audience is performing your speech in front of another person. It can be anything from the mechanics of your favorite game to the instructions for assembling a chair. Let yourself be comfortable talking about random things to other people. After all, you have to expound on your points in front of an audience eventually.

Start with someone you’re comfortable with, like a friend or a family member. This prepares you for those Q and A portions after your actual presentation. The important thing is that you’re successful in relating an idea to a person learning about it for the first time.

2. Practice Conversing

Before you get to the level of inspirational speaker, you have to get to know your audience first. One of the most intimate forms of speech communication is the art of conversation. In fact, sounding conversational during a presentation is highly encouraged. This tone eases any lingering tension between speaker and listener, and establishes a stronger connection between them.

It convinces people that while presenters are set on getting their message across, they are also interested in knowing the audience’s thoughts. In order to apply conversation in a large group, you have to master talking with others face to face.

You can start with small talk before moving to more abstract topics. Just make sure that you keep your companion engaged. Otherwise, you’ll end up boring them.

3. Record Your Speech

This is a technique often applied in professional speech training. Aside from getting feedback from others, getting feedback from yourself is important as well. Recording yourself, or watching recordings of your speeches is one way to observe any bad speech habits you may not notice when you’re talking.

Whenever you start feeling self-conscious in front of a camera, you can also watch yourself in the mirror. You can gauge how your facial expressions, body language, and movement appear to someone looking at you.

Once you’re aware of your behavior, you can work on correcting them. Of course, deeply ingrained habits aren’t things you can easily correct overnight, so practice is necessary.

Conclusion

Most public speaking techniques are based on fundamental human rules of interaction.  Connecting with other human beings is essential for your improvement as a presenter. Simple activities like explaining things and conversing with others can develop your skills further.

If you need any insight on your performance, you can record yourself or ask other people to watch you speak. This makes you aware of how you look as a speaker as well. A good speaker is one who constantly strives to be better. Practice consistently, mind your audience, and track your progress to grow into a respectable presenter.

Need a professional PowerPoint to accompany your presentation? Contact our SlideGenius experts today for a free quote!

 

References

“27 Useful Tips to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking | Brian Tracy.” Brian Tracys Blog. March 4, 2015. Accessed October 8, 2015. www.briantracy.com/blog/public-speaking/27-useful-tips-to-overcome-your-fear-of-public-speaking
“Better Public Speaking: Becoming a Confident, Compelling Speaker.” Mind Tools. Accessed January 5, 2016. https://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/PublicSpeaking.htm

 

Featured Image: “Microphone” by Paul Hudson on flickr.com

Using PowerPoint as a Learning Tool

Nowadays, many lecturers, trainers, and educators use PowerPoint as a learning tool. However, critics of the software have pointed out the way it disrupts the learning process rather than helps people understand complex concepts.

The famously quoted Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, for instance, declared in 2010 his stance on PowerPoint — the way it oversimplifies things yet confuses the audience with elaborate diagrams does more harm than good, in the general’s eyes.

But when done right, a presentation can make a lecture less boring while helping the presenter explain things more clearly.

Designing a PowerPoint presentation as training or learning aid may seem simple enough. But still, there are things that you should keep in mind to make the most of this tool:

1. Leave out the unnecessary elements

Your audience will easily understand what you are saying if your presentation is coherent. This means anything that isn’t relevant should not be included.

Check your slides for graphics, animation, or sound effects that are not directly related to the material on your slide. Too much of these will only cause cognitive overload and undermine your purpose.

2. Use texts wisely

Presentations work best when visual elements are used. Words can still have their place on your slide, though.

For example, graphs are more comprehensible if they are accompanied by labels. Captions next to images can also help clear any potential confusion.

3. Add cues to guide your audience

Following your presentation is much easier if you will use a cue whenever you make a transition. This is a slide that acts as an outline of your presentation, telling the audience where you are in the topic.

You may use graphics or photos to highlight your cues. With this technique, your audience will be able easily organize information in their minds and retain more of them effectively.

4. Tell a story

Slide decks are primarily composed of pictures with one or two sentences, allow your audience to have a few seconds to read and look at each slide. Then, proceed to tell a relevant story that supports your point.

They are more likely to remember your message when you present your points this way. When they need to review your topic, all they have to do is recall your story.

Final Words

One final reminder: Use the “no show” or blank screen button. This rarely used button can help you veer everyone’s attention away from the PowerPoint and towards you.

By using the blank screen function, you can discuss a matter in greater detail or facilitate a short exercise without having anyone distracted by a slide in the background. More importantly, it underscores the idea that a PowerPoint presentation is a tool for lecturers, not a crutch.

More importantly, it underscores the idea that a PowerPoint presentation is a tool for lecturers, not a crutch.

 

Reference

Bumiller, Elisabeth. “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint.” The New York Times. April 26, 2010. Accessed June 1, 2014.