The great speakers of our history are recognized for their persuasive power and their eloquence in defending their ideas. In this post, we’ll detail the concept and give you a list of tips to improve your presentations.
Have you ever heard a speech (or a presentation) that shocked you and managed, even for a brief moment, to capture your attention on the ideas presented?
When we remember such events, we tend to attribute the speaker’s oratorical ability to some kind of natural gift. However, while important, pure talent is not the determining factor for public speaking success.
Observing the great orators of history, we also see different techniques that can be applied to any type of speech.
Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King, for example, although in completely different fields, are remembered to this day for their persuasiveness. What they have in common is that they both trained and prepared intensively.
So how about we consider public speaking as a skill that can be trained instead of limiting it to the category of natural talent?
In this text, we will define the concept of public speaking, we will show you the obstacles you will have to face and, in addition, we will give you 5 essential tips to improve your performance when you have to speak in public.
What is oratory?
In a simple and punctual way, we can define it as the art of clear and objective communication with the public.
However, as with anything involving an audience, this definition can vary by adding principles such as eloquence, the ability to deal with objections, and even interaction with viewers.
It is a mistake to think that all this can be achieved by a person only with good verbal communication.
A good speaker must work on appropriate body language for the audience and the idea they want to convey.
More than that, it is essential to have a well-structured message as a base so as not to let the audience lose their attention or pick up information that is different from what was intended.
For all its characteristics, it is not surprising that in the West this art has its origin in classical Greece: the first manual that sought to guide its use comes from the region known today as Sicily.
Since then, historical names such as Aristotle, Cicero, Winston Churchill, and Barack Obama have excelled in the study, application, and refinement of oratory.
What obstacles stand in the way of a good presentation in public?
As we indicated at the beginning of the text, the idea that oratory can only be perfected by people born with the gift is not correct.
Even people who have spent part of their lives in fear of showing projects or ideas in public have the full potential of mastering this communication skill. To begin with, we will explain the obstacles that must be overcome:
This is the main villain that speakers face, especially those who are just starting out or not experienced enough to feel confident.
Who does not remember the nervousness of speaking in public as children, before a school presentation? As frightening as the memory is, you have to put it behind you.
Feeling nervous before an important event is natural and accepting that is the first step to control it. Ask yourself where that feeling comes from, it can be negative thoughts, lack of preparation or even physical discomfort. Identifying the cause makes it easier to work on the resolution.
Diction refers to the way we pronounce the sounds of syllables, letters, and words. This factor is essential for a good oratory because, if it is poorly worked, it can make it difficult for the public to understand.
A speaker who speaks too quickly or skips certain syllables, for example, can quickly lose the audience’s attention.
As in the previous problem, identifying the cause is crucial. They can originate from disordered breathing, lack of verbal awareness, or even failure to warm up the facial muscles.
As a cure, there are methods and training suggested by speech therapy professionals.
The fear of performing in public is common and refers to our almost irrational search for acceptance. The larger the audience, the more difficult it will be for everyone to accept us.
At least that’s what our subconscious tells us. A good way to overcome this shyness is deepen public awareness. After all, we know that the unknown is always scarier.
What are the best techniques to perfect your public speaking?
We already know the concept and origin of oratory, as well as its importance for good communication and some of the main problems that must be overcome.
Here are 5 valuable tips for developing and perfecting this skill. Keep reading!
1. Know your audience
Knowing your audience is the most efficient way to alleviate the nervousness experienced before and during a public performance. This advice, however, goes beyond that.
Understand the characteristics of your listeners helps structure and plan the message you want to convey. If you’re familiar with marketing concepts, you may have heard of a buyer persona, right?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional profile that we use in marketing strategies to adapt the content of the message to the audience we want to reach. The same idea can be applied to improve your public speaking.
For example, if you go to a room of academics who understand a topic, using more technical and complex terms can be a way to earn their respect and speak with authority.
If the same topic is aimed at pre-university students, the use of the same terms can be a barrier to assimilating the idea.
2. Work on interaction with listeners
Have you ever sat in a class or conference where the speaker spoke for an hour, seeming not to care about the audience?
If so, we venture to say that you probably couldn’t absorb the content and had trouble keeping it interesting. That’s not what you want for your own audience, is it?
Interacting with the audience does not mean that you should give space to questions from the audience from the beginning of the presentation.
A simple technique, such as making eye contact, may be necessary to elicit connection, empathy, and engagement from the audience.
After all, if you talk as if you don’t have someone listening, the tendency is that listeners don’t feel included.
Remember that eye contact must be made in a trained manner. Mere improvisation can lead to awkward situations, such as looking too long at one person or across the room.
Ideally, look around your audience so that everyone feels worthy of attention. At the end, a space for questions and comments from the public is excellent to crown the interaction.
3. Use audiovisual resources
Today, the digital transformation technology tools that we have access to facilitate any form of communication.
The production of videos, graphics, audio and images can serve as a support to structure the idea that the speaker wants to convey.
In addition, they provide listeners with examples and illustrations of what you are talking about in real time.
Exploring these elements provides the speaker with greater security. After all, in case of forgetfulness, a look at the audiovisual resource may be enough to refresh the memory and continue within the script.
However, we must remind you of the following: never read this material to the public. This can give a feeling of unpreparedness and damage your credibility.
4. Avoid language vices
We call language vices the expressions, often involuntary, that appear between sentences with the unconscious aim of filling the silence. You know what I mean, right?
To that pause to think that is accompanied by an “éééééée” or the space between one sentence and another that is filled with an “ok”?
These are not beneficial practices for your public speaking. How to correct them? Training and practice.
If you fully master the content you are about to communicate, it is likely that these vices will become less frequent.
If they persist, a valuable tip is to simply replace them with silence. Schedule breaks between one line and another. In this way, you will be able to respect your own time and avoid the appearance of unwanted sounds.
5. Use storytelling
The main objective of public speaking is to involve the public in the topic being addressed. Nothing better for this than applying storytelling techniques.
They represent a change in your approach to content by giving un different climate, typical of when a story is told. This allows for a stronger connection with the audience, which in turn has a greater ability to absorb and remember your speech.
For the narration to be effective, it is necessary to create a scenario that reflects the pains and worries of the listeners and then the conflicts and their solutions are presented. This indication of overcoming is a way of making the audience see themselves in your words, creating an emotional connection with the message.
The development of good public speaking is essential for professionals in various fields, especially those who deal with audiences.
Therefore, you must understand that it is not a purely natural process and therefore requires the overcoming of barriers. Also, constant practice and training are key to improving your presentations.
See how simple it is to improve your public speaking? Understanding this is the first step to making your public speaking more confident. Do you want to delve deeper into the subject? Take a look at this article that tells you how to capture the attention of the audience through content!