The Art of Public Speaking

The Art of Public Speaking

Whether it’s presenting to a board of executives or standing up at the annual staff get-together to offer some words of praise to a departing colleague, most people in business will need to speak in public at some point and many will be nervous. Follow these tips and feel more confident.

Be prepared

Do your homework on the organisation or the event itself.

Arrive early

It’s usually possible to find a quiet corner to sit and catch up on emails while you wait, but arriving late is discourteous to your audience and the event organisers.

Don’t make it up as you go along

Rehearse your speech so that you know how long it takes, then print it out in large type and place it on the lectern before you speak. It will act as a security blanket – if you freeze you can just read it out.

Don’t just parrot your PowerPoint

An audience will rapidly become bored at watching slides which list exactly what’s coming out of your mouth. Try using ‘pretty pictures’ (stylish and relevant imagery, with no more than a sentence).

Make eye contact

If the lights are blinding, pretend to make eye contact anyway. Sweep the audience with your eyes. Don’t stare fixedly either at the back or front rows.

Get the dress code right

If the dress code is ‘smart casual’, veer towards smart. How you look, feel and dress has a direct effect on both the way you project yourself and how the audience perceives you, and relates to your topic.

Meet and greet

Don’t rush off afterwards. It’s good to get direct feedback, but get people to contact you via LinkedIn rather than handing out your business cards like confetti, or you’ll have an avalanche of emails to field.

Practice makes perfect

The more you do it, the better you’ll get – and the less scary it feels. You may even actively come to enjoy yourself!

Do you have any tips on public speaking?

Adapted from an article by Josephine Fairley, The Telegraph

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