Giving a speech can be a huge step outside your comfort zone the first few times you have to do it. Few people other than actors are officially taught how to stand up in front of a room of people and recite lines, which is what makes it so stressful. No wonder so many nightmares involve speeches that go awry.
However, while it is true that speech-giving may suit some people’s personalities more than others, anyone can learn how to improve their speech skills with a few simple tips and techniques.
Indeed, any anxiety or lack of confidence triggered by the need to stand up and give a speech is psychological, which makes it inherently possible to overcome, so long as you feel adequately prepared enough to deliver the speech.
These tips include making sure that you nail the opening to your speech, which will give you the momentum to build upon it, as well as making sure that you prepare thoroughly beforehand.
Here are some top tips for improving your speech-giving skills:
Starting Your Speech Strongly Is The Most Important Step
The most important step of any successful speech is the start. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, it will capture the audience’s attention, and inform them that this is a speech worth listening to closely. Depending on your audience, you may want to start with some jokes, which will help to warm up your audience and make them receptive to what you want to say.
Secondly, learning how to start a presentation strongly will give you the confidence to continue. Like anything, if you start off on the wrong foot, you are likely to continue that way. Whereas, if you throw yourself into your speech with a strong opener, you are likely to gather momentum until the end.
Prepare Thoroughly Beforehand
Another great tip for improving your speech skills is to prepare thoroughly beforehand. This step is obvious, and unless you are a natural raconteur, an essential one.
You cannot sound confident in what you are saying if you don’t know what needs to be said, so put in the ground work beforehand and create an easy to remember speech, including all the background information you may find helpful.
Of course, you don’t want to overload yourself with data, because this will end up clouding your judgement. Instead, stick to what is helpful and relevant.
Focus On One Person At A Time
This tip is deceptively simple, but effective. It is not natural to talk to a room of people, because that is not how humans have evolved to interact. We are used to one-on-one conversations, focusing on the body language of the other person to give feedback about how interesting what you are saying is.
When you have a room full of people staring back at you, this can go out the window.
To counteract this, make deliberate eye contact with those you can see (probably the front few rows), individually, making sure to concentrate on them for a few seconds as if you were talking only to them.
Obviously you don’t want to stare or make it too obvious, but by focusing on one person at a time, you will relax and begin to forget how many people there are in the room altogether.