Great Habits for Public Speaking
September 26, 2014
Let's look into a few simple tips you can focus on to dramatically improve your public speaking skills. (Here is a slide deck I made to help me present to my Hack Reactor remote cohort in late August 2014.)
If you have a visual aid (like a slide deck), put something interesting for your audience to look while they wait for you to begin! It can be a puzzle, riddle, quote, or even an image.
Silence is powerful. Don't be afraid to use it! With silence, you can command the attention of an entire room. Your audience will listen when they are ready.
Always start with an overview. Why? Because you have to tell your audience what you're going to tell them, tell it to them, and tell them what you told them.
Avoid these words/phrases: "uhm…", "ahh…", "you know…", "so like…", lip tisks, etc.
Banish them from your public speaking vocabulary! They can be very distracting from your message. Instead, use silence. If you need to think about your next few words, a few seconds of silence may be infinitely more golden than a drawn out uuuuuuuuuuuhmmmmmmm.
(Some people attribute Caroline Kennedy's failed Senate campaign in 2008 to her use of 100+ "you knows" in a 30 minute television interview. Don't be like Caroline Kennedy! Use silence.)
To get better at avoiding these filler words/phrases, a good technique is to get immediate feedback. Either ask a friend or audience member to count how many times you used a filler word/phrase and try to make that number smaller and smaller every time you speak.
Timing your talk correctly is one of the most important aspects of public speaking. Your audience has already generouly set aside time out of their days to listen to you, so don't go over time. Be respectful of their time! Set your own stopwatch or have somebody cue you when you get close to the end of your alloted time.
DON'T say "uhm yeah," "that's it," "I think I'm done," or "cool."
DO thank your audience for taking time out of their busy days to listen to you. This simple act of confidence is a sure fire way to hear some applause (no matter how everything else went)!