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Tips for public speaking success

Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)

Have you ever met someone who seems perfectly unruffled under pressure? They’re enviably calm, even in front of a big audience. They smile, they enunciate, they answer questions – even tough ones – with grace and ease.

While it might seem like these are skills they’re simply born with, the truth is they’re learned with years of practice and training. It’s totally normal to have pre-speaking jitters; public speaking is like a muscle you can strengthen over time. And once you find what styles, approaches and tricks work for you, it gets much easier. Engaging in public speaking is undoubtedly one of the best ways to build thought leadership, connect with key audiences and personalize your brand.

Here are five ways to make your presentation particularly effective and memorable.

Tell a Story

Simply rattling off the facts about your organization can sound a lot like “blah, blah, blah” to audience ears. Plus, no audience member wants to feel like they’re being aggressively pitched.

So, what do people actually like? A story. A good presentation often follows a story arc with a clear exposition, climax and conclusion. Instead of focusing only on your company’s products or services, make the audience the hero of the story by helping them find out what they want and need to hear along the way. You can build a fascinating story by answering these questions:

  • How is your company going to help them on their own personal journeys?
  • How can you help them meet their individual goals and aspirations?
  • What challenges stand in their way?

The best speakers paint such a vivid portrait for their key audiences that becoming a lifelong brand loyalist is not only an option, but a logical next step.

Embrace Humor or Creativity

No one wants to hear you monotonously drone on for an hour or more, rehashing the same points and reading from a dull script. We can’t blame your audience for letting their minds wander or, worse, dozing off for a midday nap.

But here’s the thing. There are no boring topics, only boring presentations. With the right team and the right attitude, you can make any presentation engaging, interesting and even funny. A well-placed joke is a sure-fire way to keep an audience interested – but avoid making a joke that falls flat (or worse, offends) by:

  • Avoiding controversial topics or stereotypes
  • Keeping it connected to your presentation’s main points
  • Nailing the punchline (it comes with confidence)
  • Testing it out a few times before the event to gauge a reaction

Humor not your forte? No stress. There are plenty of other ways to engage audiences and hold their attention, especially with so much technology at our disposal. You could try to incorporate eye-catching, dynamic infographics to support your primary points. Work in a short but moving video. Share a clever GIF or meme. Or, devote a few minutes to break-out conversations or brainstorming sessions.

Perfect Your Delivery

Even seasoned, professional speakers practice before events, and they’ll probably tell you that flawless presentation delivery is the direct result of knowing their content inside and out. Practicing is the best way to get cozy with your content. Rehearse your presentation enough times to where each point comes naturally. You might choose to do this by workshopping it with a spouse, presenting for a friend or going through your talking points with coworkers. Ask for honest feedback and readjust if needed. If something isn’t flowing quite right, there’s no shame in getting back to the drawing board.

While you could technically read off a script or teleprompter, this might not result in the most enjoyable presentation – for you or the audience. If you’re giving an important speech, using bulleted notecards (or even memorizing your presentation if you have the time) works the best. It feels more organic, you can smoothly go off-script if it makes sense and nimbly react to audience signals, which brings us to our next point…

Adapt to Feedback on the Spot

Experienced speakers are experts in understanding how their audience is feeling. The best presentations aren’t just one person up in front of a group and talking. Rather, they’re more of a dynamic interaction between the speaker and his or her audience. In order to create this conversational tone, watch your audience’s body language. If they’re fidgeting in their seats or looked confused, you might need to readjust your delivery, or switch it up by asking questions, throwing in an interesting statistic or cracking a joke. If they’re smiling and nodding – bingo! You’re on the right track.

Wrap Things Up the Right Way

We’ll let you in on a little secret: the end of your presentation is the most important part. People naturally want a conclusion – and you need to deliver a conclusion that simultaneously satisfies and inspires. To wrap up a presentation you might decide to:

  • Revisit a theme or metaphor mentioned earlier in the presentation.
  • Provide a clever acronym that helps audience members remember your key points.
  • Share an inspirational quote from a well-known figure that connects back to your topic.

The last (and perhaps the most critical aspect of your conclusion) is your call to action. What do you want your engaged audience to do after they stand up? It might be to visit your campaign’s landing page. Or perhaps you’re looking for investment in your startup. Or maybe – because you’re such a natural – you want to speak at more industry events, and you need to build your network. Whatever the reason behind your presentation is, let the audience know. Succinct calls-to-action with active verbs energize audience members to make the next move.

Have an upcoming speaking engagement? Looking to get on the public speaking circuit for your industry? Want to pitch a presentation at an event? Get in touch with the team Aker Ink for expert tips on how to prepare and ensure your presentation is a success

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