Tips for Effective Public Speaking

When you speak in front of a business or social group, would you like to be self-confident, poised, be able to think on your feet, present your thoughts in a logical order, and be able to talk clearly and convincingly? While you can, with practice and by utilizing these valuable tips on public speaking from Dale Carnegie’s book, The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking.

How to select topics that will interest your audience:

1)     Speak about something you have earned the right to talk about through your experience or study. Speak about something of which you know first-hand.

2)     Talk about what life has taught you.

3)     Focus on topics in your background. For example, give vivid illustrations of  your early years growing up,  talk about the struggles and failures you faced to get ahead,  relive unusual experiences you have faced, tune into special areas of knowledge, beliefs, and convictions.

4)     You should feel excited to talk about this topic; you should feel so much enthusiasm that you are eager to share your information with others.

The following four steps in your preparation will help to command the attention of your audience.

1)     Limit your subject relative to the duration of the presentation. For example, one subject is appropriate for a five minute presentation and four to five subjects is maximum for a thirty minute presentation.

2)     Dig down deep for more facts on the subject than you will ever need to use in your presentation. This exercise will give you a deeper, more confident understanding of the subject so you can speak with authority.  It is recommended to live with the theme of the message, turning it over in your mind several times. Remember, never write out your talk word for word.

3)     Fill your supporting material with illustrations and examples. No one wants to be talked to, reeling off a list of should do’s. You must be entertaining; think about supporting a statement with stories to drive your point in a format that will interest your audience; for example, you can tell one success story and another failing story to illustrate your point in an entertaining fashion. The more human interest stories, the richer the presentation; and material about your own background is the best of all. When stories involve other people, use their names to personalize it; if you need to protect identities, make up fictitious names. Fill your stories with details; answer the questions when, where, who, what, and why. Then dramatize the story by using the actual running dialogue between the individuals; the direct quotations of a story bring it to life. If you can do it, also incorporate a visual demonstration into your support material.

4)     Be emotional, be enthusiastic, be excited about your topic; you will generate excitement proportional to the amount of excitement you put into it; don’t repress your feelings

Sharing your talk with the audience

1)     Work into your presentation your audiences interests and problems; talk about what they are most interested in, namely, themselves. Ask yourself how the knowledge of your subject will help your audience solve their problems and achieve their goals.

2)     This step may take some research- show your appreciation for something the audience has done that is worthy of praise.

3)     As soon as possible, identify yourself with the audience. Immediately indicate your relationship to the group and offer kind words of welcome. Another way to open lines of communication is to use the names of people in the audience. Insert your listeners into the presentation by using the word “you” often.

4)     Use tactics to make your audience a partner in your presentation. For example, choose someone in the audience to demonstrate a point; get audience participation by simply asking questions; invite your audience to vote on something or help you to solve a problem. One of the best ways to endear yourself to the audience is to play yourself down.

Delivering the talk

1)     Overcome any physical and emotional stiffness so you can speak naturally; express the individuality within you.

2)     The audience must feel a sense of communication; they must feel that there is a message being delivered from your heart directly to their heart.

3)     An audience wants the speaker to talk just as directly as he would in a chat, and in the same manner he would employ speaking to just one of them in a conversation. Mentally pick out someone in the back of the room and talk to this person as if you were having a conversation with him. You may go so far as to ask a question, pause, and proceed to answer the question.

4)     Put your heart into your speaking; be sincere and enthusiastic; be spontaneous and natural.

5)     When you are communicating your ideas to someone, it is natural to use many vocal variations as well as physical gestures. It is an excellent idea to evaluate yourself in terms of variations in volume, pitch, and pace. Keep in mind these vocal and physical variations are under the direct influence of our mental and emotional state. For that reason, it is important that we have a topic we know and are excited about communicating to the audience.

6)     Repeat your phrases or key words of importance. Repeat the main point of your message three times – in the very beginning, in the middle of your presentation, and again at the end.

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