Whether you’re making a presentation to the association board, at work for your boss or out in the community, speaking in public is no easy task. Once you overcome the nerves, you need to be coherent, informative and interesting. Here are a couple keys to grab and keep your audience’s attention:
- Talk about their concerns. Begin your speech by broadly discussing the issues important to your audience. Describe the problems or challenges that are on their minds. If you start there, you can get their attention and lead them to where you want to go.
- Keep it simple. Fine tune your main message. Be selective about the details and drive the main points home, otherwise you risk losing people’s attention.
- Anticipate what your audience is thinking. When you express one view, it’s likely the audience will begin thinking about other, unstated parts of the subject. Anticipate the questions and concerns that may come up and address them.
- Learn to pause. Pause to let the audience catch up, let them rest, let words resonate and to give the impression of composure and thoughtfulness. There are no set rules for the right time to pause. It takes practice. Try breaking up / your paragraphs / like this / into short phrases. / Take a breath / at each mark / to teach your body / and mind / to slow down.
- Master your body language. Focus on a single attribute, such as relaxed, fluid, calm or assertive, and begin acting it in the everyday things you do. If you choose to focus on calmness, once the behavior becomes a part of your routine, practice calmly walking up to the front of a room, calmly arranging papers and calmly delivering your speech.
The best way to become a good public speaker is practice. Find a local Toastmasters International club at http://www.toastmasters.org/ to perfect your approach.