Becoming a professional public speaker isn’t always easy — you have to be charismatic yet collected, unique yet relatable, and sincere yet inspirational. It’s a delicate balance and on top of that, you want to make sure you are delivering a message that is clear and entertaining.
Luckily, whether you’re giving a live and in-person speech or conducting a virtual presentation, there are a few fundamental techniques that, when used, will dramatically improve the value of your speech. On the other hand, there are also a few pitfalls that you need to watch out for.
So, here are the dos and don’ts of public speaking to improve your speech and captivate your audience.
Don’t Fill Every Second with Words
Some speakers feel as if they need to be speaking the entire time they are presenting, filling every moment with words. But in many cases, pauses can be just as effective as speaking — maybe even more so. A strategically placed pause is powerful and can do a lot for your audience.
Do Utilize Strategic Pauses
There are a few different types of pauses you can use. A dramatic pause can help your point stick in your listener’s minds, while a sense pause is meant to give people a moment to absorb new information.
You can also utilize an emphatic pause to highlight an important point or a sentence-completion pause to encourage audience interaction as you start a familiar phrase and let the audience finish it.
As a bonus, pauses don’t only help your audience — they also help you. Many speakers tend to rush through their speech when they get on stage. By deliberately adding pauses, you’ll help yourself relax, slow down, and deliver your speech at a much more manageable speed.
Don’t Rely Too Heavily on Visual Aids
Visual aids such as charts, graphs, or infographics have a lot of pros and cons. When visual aids are well-designed and used at the right times, they can be a nice complement to your talk. But if you start to rely on your visual aids too often, that’s where things can get dicey.
Do use visuals sparingly to support your speech.
Your audience is here to listen to your talk because they wanted to hear you talk. If all they wanted was a visual, they could have read a blog post. That’s why you shouldn’t rely too heavily on your visual aids. Instead, use them sparingly, maybe sharing graphics for just a few of your key points instead of using aids throughout the entire talk.
That way, you can make sure your visual aids are truly supporting your speech and not detracting from it.
Don’t Skip the Promotion
Do you have a product, service, or something else to promote? If so, don’t be afraid to include it in your speech! Many times, public speakers might feel strange or pushy including their product in their speech. But as long as your product fits with what you’re talking about, it’s completely okay to include it. In fact, this is a way you can bring more value to your audience.
Promoting yourself is an important skill. It can be a little tricky to find a balance of providing value instead of selling, but once you do, you’ll see your career and your income begin to rise.
Don’t Fidget or Pace
Fiddling with your notecards or nervously walking back and forth across the stage isn’t the best way to present yourself as a professional public speaker. Instead, practice your speech as much as you can and get comfortable with being on stage. The more time you spend giving speeches, the more relaxed you’ll feel with each one.
Do incorporate meaningful movement.
And although fidgeting and pacing distract the audience, it’s completely okay to incorporate other types of movement into your speech if you have trouble standing still. Just make sure your physical movement makes sense with the speech you’re giving.
Any moves you make should be intentional, deliberate, and necessary. For example, try stepping closer to the edge of the stage to connect with your audience as you drive home an important point.
Don’t Wing It
Your job as a public speaker starts long before you step on the stage. Before giving your speech, you need to research your audience, prepare your talk, and make sure you’re ready to go.
Of all of my public speaking tips, practicing may seem like the simplest piece of advice, but it is also the most overlooked.
Do Practice Beforehand.
Not knowing your audience can be a disastrous mistake! Make sure to research your audience ahead of time so you can make sure your speech is relevant to them. Then, create a solid draft of your speech so you can rehearse it — including any physical movements you want to make — before presenting it for the first time.
Don’t Run Over Time
If you’ve been given a certain number of minutes in which to present your speech, don’t run any longer. Be respectful by ending your speech right on time. Keeping your speech concise is also helpful because your audience is more likely to stay dialed in for the entire time.
Do Keep an Eye on the Clock.
Being respectful of the time you’ve been given shows humility and gratefulness, and it’s the quickest way to be invited back to speak again. If you go on for too long, your audience will become disconnected and their mind will tend to wander elsewhere.
Don’t be Afraid to go Virtual
With the evolution of technology, virtual public speaking can give you the opportunity to motivate and inspire millions online. More than half of marketers have pivoted to online webinars, so capitalizing on these virtual opportunities is key for success in this technological age.
Become a digital leader. If you want to build a strong online presence and become a digital leader, learning to speak online and not fearing the transition is so important. Get ahead of the game, and grow a powerful business online.
Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of public speaking, learn how you can stand out in a crowded world with my virtual public speaking guide. This guide will teach you how to motivate and inspire millions online!