HomeOpinion & Analysis8 tips to improve your public speaking skills

8 tips to improve your public speaking skills

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WE speak every day, and the need to be a better speaker is indisputable. What we probably remember are days at school when the teacher would call us to the front to make a presentation to other classmates and fear would paralyse or freeze our body.

Each of us has stories to share, but the skill to share those stories must be improved. Do you have presence when you stand on stage? Do you feel, or exude the right image on stage? Do you grab the attention of your audience? This article will give eight tips to help you hone your speaking craft.

Body language
Your body speaks before you say any word. People judge us usually by what they see. If you want to be seen as a speaker, you must improve your body posture.

Keep your head up, and stop walking with hunched shoulders. Your posture must exude confidence, as it communicates your inner image. Your posture transmits internal vibrations. Your body language creates the non-verbal moves that complement your voice.

Facial expression
Your face also says something before you utter a word. Master you face by loving the mirror. You must know what to say with your face. Your facial expression is seen through your eyes, lips, forehead and chin. It is usually said your eyes are the pathway to the soul.

Learn how to express an emotion by exercising in your mirror. Do your eyes show compassion and authenticity? Does your smile reveal the warmth in your heart?

Breathing
Your breathing when you are in front of people determines your pace, punch, pose, pitch and power. Master breathing techniques.

Relax, and have enough air in your lungs and you will be able to use words effectively.

Master your voice
Your voice exudes or reveals the inner colour, creativity or condor. Do not say something before you are sure of your inner clarity. The best critic of your voice is you. Record yourself and know the areas that must be improved. Look for a speech coach or therapist to help you overcome your weakness and polish your speaking craft.

Pronunciation
How you push, shape, enunciate, and roll your words matters. Take time to learn new words through reading widely and that will improve your diction.

There is nothing so humiliating in front of a crowd like having a limited choice of words to use, and end up repeating some words. Let these words come out with clarity, art and exuberance.

Resonance
Resonance speaks of tonality; how you phrase your words. It is easy to know if a speaker is commanding you or trying to reach out to you. It is easy to know if the speaker has aggression or has empathy.

Listening
Best speakers are the best listeners. Listen to things that move or touch people’s hearts. If you can touch the heart, you can move people to action. When you are speaking to a crowd, know what they need, and what problems they want to solve.

Communication skills
Communication is one skill that we should learn every day. To be in love, you have to communicate. To get that job, you must communicate. To end this article, I will use an acronym by Teri Hart. Hart is a master communicator and TV personality. She created an acronym from the word BRIEF:

Belief — Believe what you are saying and it becomes easy for people to buy into your story. This will also emphasise your passion for the subject matter. Think of this; you are boarding a plane and you hear on the speakers the pilot saying: “This is my first time flying an airplane after flight school. I am not so sure if I will do the right thing!”

What do you think people will do? This is what most speakers do; they are apologetic and lose their audience. Own the stage!

Rehearse — It is said champions are not made in the ring, they are merely recognised there. Rehearsing is repeating the same things all over again until you internalise or master it. Masters are made in secret and then win on stage. Hart says your speech should be done in two days before your speaking engagement.

Interesting — When you are interesting you are engaging your audience. No one wants to listen to an unexciting speaker.

Edit — Remove all content that is not relevant and align to time needs. Be concise and leave important content in your speech.

Fun — have fun whilst speaking. Smile, enjoy the moment, and have fun all the way.

  • Jonah Nyoni is an author, speaker, and leadership trainer. He can be contacted on Twitter @jonahnyoni. Whatsapp: +263 772 581 918

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