Some people are natural-born orators while others just feel more comfortable listening. Regardless, it’s likely that during your professional career you’ll have to give a presentation or at the very least, speak in front of a group. While the thought of public speaking may be daunting, there are certain things you can do to improve your skills.
If you watch enough TED Talks, you’ll realize that there are a few things all successful presentations and speakers have in common.
The speaker always starts by sharing a personal story that puts the topic in context that most, if not all, of the audience can identify with. The more your audience sees themselves in what you’re saying, the more engaged they will be.
Speak to the Individual:
Have you ever tried to speak to a large group? With so many people, it can be hard to focus on individuals, so you end up speaking in a general direction instead. An effective presenter, however, will speak directly to those in the crowd, making eye contact as they go. You don’t need to spend more than a moment on any one person. You’ll feel more connected to your content and audience if you’re actually talking to someone.
This is the best way to instantly draw your audience in and have them become active participants. When someone poses a question, it’s hard not to think of an answer or response. Even if you’re asking a rhetorical question, listeners are still actively engaging in the discussion as they think it over.
Offer Case Studies:
Whenever possible, offer case studies or specific stories to exemplify your point. It’s been generally accepted that after presentations have ended, specific examples and stories are remembered with a higher recall rate than other supporting content.
Watch Other Speakers:
If you’re serious about improving your public speaking skills, watch a lot of speeches. Learning by observation is valuable and effective, especially in areas that are nuanced. The more talks you watch, the more you’ll naturally start to incorporate and inhabit the rhythms and styles of successful speakers.