Practice makes perfect, especially in front of an audience

By: Cole Buergi, Leonard & Finco Public Relations


Business woman drawing a diagram during the presentation and receiving applause

I was listening to a presentation recently about a topic that wasn’t that overly interesting, yet I found myself compelled to listen to what was being said. On my way back to the office following the presentation, I thought about why I was so intent on listening to the speaker.
Upon reflection, it truly boiled down to the presenter’s style, the appropriate use of inflection in his voice and how he had a strong sense of conviction in his message. I thought others could use some tips on how to be a better presenter.
It’s always good to have an interesting topic to share but, if you don’t, you still can capture your audience with some simple techniques:
Practice, practice, practice…
Practicing a speech in advance not only builds confidence but allows you to memorize more of what you’re going to say, preventing the need to rely heavily on note cards, if at all. It also allows you to fine tune your messaging and identify natural transitions on topics.
Speak clearly…
Pronounce your words clearly and speak at a level so that everyone listening can hear. Practice using inflection in your voice so that you don’t come off as monotone and boring.
Avoid filling silence with the speech killing ums and ahhs…
We’ve all this done and, yes, I’m guilty of it even today, albeit I actively try not to. Don’t believe me, truly listen to how a good speaker is speaking and you’ll notice that he or she seldom, if ever, says, “um” or “ah” as a pause in their speech in preparation for what they are about to say next. Television and radio news anchors are especially good at it.
Use hands and body gestures…
Don’t just stand with your hands in your pockets or by your side. Just like when you use photos and video in PowerPoint to capture the audience, use your hands, arms and body to help maintain their attention.
Finally, look at your audience…
They are not there to look at the top of your head while you look down at a podium and read off a script. Making eye contact with your listeners builds rapport and shows that you’re confident in what you’re saying.
Following these simple tips will make you a much better speaker and one who people will want to hear.
Do you give speeches regularly? Feel free to share tips you use to be successful.