Just as the top sportspeople and finest actors make it look easy, so the world’s most inspiring speakers have a calmness and a flow that keeps us captivated.
However, as with anyone who’s successfully mastered their craft, the hard work that goes into the final result is very rarely appreciated.
The most effective orators over the years might make it look simple, but they all work incredibly hard at getting it right. They all have a secret or two that helps them get their message across, so here are five public speaking tips from the experts.
Make Eye Contact
Simon Sinek is one of the most-watched TED speakers. His presentation on WHY in 2009 has now had over 40 million views. Simon is a painfully shy individual and prefers the comfort of the background at parties rather than being the centre of attention.
One of his top tips when presenting is to make eye contact with your audience. If you have an audience of 200 people listening or a screen with 100 people watching you on Zoom, it isn’t going to be easy to make eye contact with everyone.
But if you spend your whole speech reading from a script, neither you nor your audience will build any rapport. So look up and make a conscious effort to engage the gaze of a number of your audience. It will start to provide you with some of the nonverbal feedback you would get in a normal two-way conversation.
Winston Churchill is one of Great Britain’s most well-known politicians. His speeches have been replayed millions of times on YouTube and form the basis for hundreds of motivational videos that span the internet.
The timeless nature of his speeches shows the power of public speaking. So for someone who spoke so clearly and effectively, silence is a strange public speaking technique to promote.
However, Churchill knew the power of silence and understood how the mind processes information. A crucial part of my training is the ‘did you get that pause’. Your audience needs time to take on board what you say but they won’t take it all in. Churchill was convinced that humans could concentrate for only 18 minutes and that you can only convey between 3-5 key messages within that time.
He felt that using pause of 3-8 seconds after a critical message was vital for the audience to take on board what was being said.
Know Your Subject
Steve Jobs, the architect of much of Apple’s success, loved presenting his company’s latest product offering to the market. He had a handle on all aspects of the product which meant he felt confident espousing its virtues. The confidence of a speaker who has a firm grasp of his product is always evident.
Steve was convinced that anyone who knows what they are talking about doesn’t need PowerPoint. For him, the strength of any speech is not in the visuals but the person delivering. Knowing and understanding your topic will provide you with the clarity and flexibility you need to adapt your message to fit your audience and ensure you can deal with any eventuality. If the presentation doesn’t work, or the technology breaks, you can still deliver the speech your audience came to hear.
Establish A Rhythm
Former US President, Barack Obama, is well known for his ability to captivate an audience. His 2004 Democratic Convention speech was widely regarded as the catalyst to his nomination in 2006 and election in 2008.
One of the secrets to Barack Obama’s success is his ability to establish a rhythm in his speaking. This is not something that you can pick up one day but it is a fantastic way to enable your audience to navigate your speech and pull out the key points quickly. It also helps you to capture their attention for longer.
A monotone pitch will lose the audience early in the speech. Someone who talks at a constant pace doesn’t allow the audience to pick up the natural signals of when and where it is important to focus.
Learning from the best
These are just a few public speaking techniques that have worked for some of the world’s best speakers. Most of these tips are the result of hard work, preparation and dedication to good practice. If you would like to find out more about the public speaking tips I offer on my courses, get in touch today.