For young entrepreneurs, no matter your industry, you will have to engage in public speaking. Whether it is to speak about your product or present your business’ objectives at a meeting or seminar it is inevitable. For many people this is a terrifying endeavour. Communicating your key message effectively is a primary objective of public speaking, and as such it takes several prerequisites.
Below, I provide some of the best inside secrets of selected polished public speakers to help you become acquainted with the art of public speaking and ultimately rock as a public speaker.
Know Your Audience
Like a rock band that plays a different set list depending on where they are and who their audience is, a good speaker will know who's in the audience and tailor their message to them.
Ken Lindner, CEO of Los Angeles-based Ken Lindner & Associates, Inc. advices speakers to alter their speech so it resonates with their audience, and is meaningful and relevant to them. Speaking at a live event offers you the opportunity to get immediate feedback and see whether people are responding to their message. Lindner also argues that allowing for Q&A gives a speaker the chance to interact with the audience and be real.
Love Your Topic
It is in principle easier to speak in front of an audience if you are talking about a subject you love. The reality is, when we talk about subjects we care about, we tend to speak from the heart. Audiences love that, because they can relate to it. You might mispronounce a word or make a minor stumble, but the audience is willing to overlook it. Enthusiasm is contagious. Deep down, we all want to be passionate about something. When we see that quality in others, it encourages us.
Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group says that “the key is to understand your message, put your own personality into it and convey it in your own words. Remember, not everybody has a huge vocabulary. Often a short word will work much better than a long one that you may mispronounce anyway - especially if you suffer from dyslexia like me”.
Reveal Something Personal
Share something personal with your audience - an embarrassing story or one of your failures, for example. When you bear your soul, it allows your audience to connect with you on a personal level. You're not just some figurehead up there, you're a real person! Break down the invisible wall with a story. Telling a story, it will be easier for people to focus on your message and your audience will have something to walk away with.
Stacey Ferreira, the 20-year-old co-founder and vice president of MySocialCloud.com, a Los Angeles-based online backup and bookmarking site, says "I’ve found that telling stories are an amazing way to get listeners’ attention and bring everyone in the audience into your speech,". You might also try incorporating jokes or video clips to break things up, too.
Acknowledge Your Audience With a Smile
Stand tall with your hands at your side and spend a minute or two smiling at your audience. Do it even if you're nervous and want to get started. You will eventually come off as confident and self-assured (even if you don't feel like it). It's easy to underestimate the importance of body language. If you're not convinced, have someone record you while you're speaking. You'll be amazed at the movements you're not aware you're making.
Travis Allen, the 21-year-old president and CEO of the iSchool Initiative, an education-focused nonprofit, notes that "body language is 70% of being an effective communicator, how you say it is 23% and content is only 7%".
So regardless of the purpose of communication, before delivering a speech you should consider the five basic elements of public speaking : who is saying what to whom using what medium with what effects.