4 Quick Tips for Public Speaking
In honor of last night’s presidential debate, I thought now would be a good time to share a few quick public speaking tips. As a public relations student, I found myself speaking in public pretty much every day. There was always a class presentation or a meeting for a student organization. These speaking opportunities better prepared me for similar situations in the work world. Although I have never had a problem with public speaking, I constantly find myself referring to the advice of my old professors. Below are some of my favorite tips that I thought about during last night’s debate:
1. Know The Audience
Before you start preparing for a speech or any type of public speaking, you should ALWAYS consider your audience first. If you know who you are speaking to, it will be much easier to determine your content and the delivery style you want to use. What was interesting about the first presidential debate was that the candidates seemed to be speaking to two different audiences. While Barack Obama usually looked directly at the camera and appeared to be addressing the American people, Mitt Romney was focused solely on the president. Next time you are about to speak in front of a group, think about who they are and what will grab their attention, then use that information to tailor your speech.
2. Know Your Material
It may seem like common sense to say that you should review your material and practice a presentation before giving it, but many people tend to find themselves ill-prepared when the time comes to deliver a speech. It is essential that you go over your material before speaking in front of people, no matter how good you think you are at “winging it.” As you could see in last night’s debate, even a great orator like President Obama can stumble if they are not well prepared.
3. Dress Professionally
I’d have to say President Obama and Mr. Romney were equal on this one – mostly because they were wearing the same thing, just with different color ties. Although it may seem like a given to dress professionally for a presidential debate, many people do not realize how important appearance is during any speaking engagement. Whether you are pitching a client at work or presenting a project in class, you should always look put together. No one would have taken the candidates seriously last night if they came on stage in jeans and a sweatshirt, and you won’t command respect or attention either if you dress that way. I’m not saying you should always be in a full suit, but you can never go wrong with biz-cas.
4. Have A Clear Message
This is one of the most important tips for public speaking. If you do not deliver a clear message, your audience will walk away with nothing – no matter how well you spoke or how great you looked. Although I wasn’t overly impressed by the content either candidate delivered in Denver, I have to say that Mitt Romney came away as the winner when looking at who had the clearer message. Romney wanted to tell the American people that he can fix the economy. He came back to this point with nearly every statement he made. There was a clear theme for Mitt during last night’s debate. Obama, on the other hand, often appeared scrambled and his statements came off as rambling. Whatever the topic of your speech or presentation may be, make sure the topic is clear to your audience and that you refer back to it frequently.
What tips and tricks do you use to prepare for a public speaking gig?