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Tips on Being a Better Speaker

October 8, 2009

Public speaking is only difficult if you make it so. It is not more difficult than talking to a friend. Are you comfortable talking with a friend? Do you sense that when you make eye contact, you are more effective in communicating what is in your head? How does your friend’s mannerisms help you change your tone or voice?

Tips To Help You Be a Better Speaker
By Dr. Daniel Grandstaff

(Originally clipped from Presentation Pointers)

Here are a few tips from the methods I use with coaching clients and in my workshops, and which we also include in our resource kits. As with any new skill, you can only learn them by doing them.

1. You are most effective when you are able to be yourself with the group. You may want to spend some time before you speak getting in touch with how you feel when you feel most yourself. Remembering how we feel at those times can often help us feel that way again.

2. Many of us think we will be “OK” if we do a good job and please the audience. What is more likely to make us feel OK is to be who we are. This is also most likely to create a good connection with the audience.

3. Stay present to yourself and your audience as much as you can. Staying in the present moment can often help you do this.

4. You don’t need to be afraid of silence. Silences can help us center ourselves and give time for the audience to settle in. Silences can allow time for us to find the words to say. Silences can give the audience time to absorb what you have said. Silences can create emphasis and impact.

5. Pause for several seconds before you begin speaking, making eye contact with two or three people before you begin. Take a breath or two and let yourself feel your feet connecting to the floor. You may want to consciously “open your heart” to the audience before you begin.

6. Find one or more friendly, receptive faces before you begin and focus on their support during the first part of your talk.

7. Speak to one person at a time. Make eye contact with one person at a time for a few seconds instead of “scanning” the audience.

8. Instead of feeling you have to give the audience something, focus more on receiving their support. Paradoxically, if you are extremely nervous before you begin, focus on putting your audience at ease.

9. Imagine that you are having a conversation with people in the audience. In some settings you can ask them questions and actually get people to respond. But most of the time, talking to them as though you are having a conversation, changes the tone and makes it more personal.

10. Speak in short sentences as much as possible. This will help you be clearer.

11. When possible, think about your purpose and main point(s) before you begin. This can help you focus and stay on track.

12. Use “stories”, examples, and analogies to connect to your audience.

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