Make your next presentation the best one yet with these 9 public speaking tips.
Public speaking is not easy. Granted, some people definitely have natural ability to talk in front of a group of complete strangers and they can even do it well. Yet for a lot of us, the task can seem daunting or even cringe-worthy. Just talking or thinking about public speaking will bring sweat to your palms or maybe a desire to run.
But, that might be because you’re not thinking of public speaking in the right way! You’re not thinking about how great it can be if you’re focusing on the right things. Using these nine easy steps from Carmine Gallo’s Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds, the task of public speaking will no longer feel like a formidable task. Instead, it will become an opportunity to share what your passion in an effective and engaging way.
1. Unleash the master within.
It might seem obvious, but a lot of times we forget why we’re giving a presentation in the first place. You’re talking about something that means something to you or that you are, to some extent, passionate about. In certain cases, you might have to talk about something you’re not excited about, so in those instances it’s important to find at least one kernel within your topic that you can really get behind. If you’re inspired by at least some aspect of what you're talking about, your audience will pick up on that and start to feel inspired too.
2. Tell three stories.
Reading, watching movies, listening to music — these are all forms of storytelling. These are also all things that people like. When you think about some of the best presentations or speeches you’ve seen, you probably remember there being stories that you could relate to on some level. Rather than delivering just a cut and dry presentation of facts, share three stories that will engage your audience. This will help you as well since stories are easy to remember and often fun to share.
3. Practice relentlessly.
Like they say, practice makes perfect. The more times you practice a presentation, the more you feel comfortable with it. If you’ve said it a million times, the less you'll worry about semantics and the more you can focus on what you’re actually saying. You’ll be able to enjoy talking to your audience even more when you don’t have to worry about missing a line. Take it from Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, who got 15 million views of her Ted Talk, but only after she rehearsed it 200 times.
4. Teach your audience something new.
People don't normally feel inspired if they’re hearing something they already know. Teaching your audience something new is both a tool for you and an important experience for your listeners. Teaching is an easy trick for public speaking because it gives you an objective that you can focus on. At the same time, your audience will appreciate having something that they mull over in their minds long after your speech is over.
5. Deliver jaw-dropping moments.
While you definitely want the core of your presentation or speech to be solid, you also want to have a few “wow” moments in there that your audience definitely won’t forget. This can come in the form of an astounding fact, a surprising story, or a prop that you bring to illustrate a point. Whatever it is, craft your presentation in a way that keeps your audience hooked at all the most poignant moments and stirs emotions in them that last even after your speech ends.
6. Use humor without telling a joke.
You don’t have to deliver "knock knock" jokes or slip on a banana peel in order to lighten things up, but you do want to give your audience something to smile or laugh at. Audiences often feel tense watching presentations or speeches because they feel nervous for you. Make your audience relaxed by telling them a humorous story or a personal anecdote so they aren’t focused on your nervousness but instead are rooting for you. People will like someone who’s funny and relatable — just be careful not to overdo it.
7. Stick to the 18-minute rule.
It’s hard to find the sweet spot for the length of a good presentation. You want to provide your audience with as much information as possible, but people can only focus for so long. By keeping your presentation at 18 minutes, you’re giving yourself enough time to hit all the things you need to, while also keeping your audience from thinking about their grocery list or going to the bathroom multiple times.
8. Favor pictures over text.
It might seem helpful to have a powerpoint with lots of bullet points and words, but your audience will hate it. Instead of text to accompany what your saying, provide pictures that people can associate with your words. People aren’t going to memorize everything you're saying, but they will remember the pictures that went along with your awesome presentation.
9. Stay in your lane.
And what you really need to remember is to not try and be something you’re not. Don’t copy someone else’s presentation you saw (even if it is really cool), or act like someone else. Instead, just be yourself. You and your audience will feel a lot more comfortable if you stick to what comes naturally. You’ll seem less intimidating, but at the same time appear more confident because you’re confident in yourself. By sharing personal stories from your own life, people will find something to connect to and see you as someone they can learn from.
Public speaking does not come naturally for many, but that doesn't mean you can't develop the skill with hard work and effort. With these nine tips, you'll be on your way to becoming a better presenter in no time!