20 July 2020

Whether you are standing in front of 5 or 500 people, in-person or virtually, public speaking to an audience can be a scary experience. Beat that fear by learning these five golden rules to master public speaking

2:00 min

1 Be in your comfort zone

The way a public speaker dresses speaks volumes of his/her personality, character and confidence to the audience. First, it is important to dress for the occasion, honouring the appropriate dress code and respecting the guidelines. Second, being comfortable in what you are wearing will help reduce the fear and anxiety of being in the spotlight. Try on your clothes before the speaking engagement, make sure everything fits comfortably and you feel good about what you are wearing.

2 Use body language and the right words

Experts agree that between 70 to 93 percent of our communication is nonverbal. Use strong, positive body language to establish credibility, express emotions, and connect with listeners. Well-placed movements can emphasise important inflections of your speech, helping the audience focus on you and what you’re saying. Vivid language also helps listeners imagine what you are saying, painting a clearer picture of your intended message. For more body language guidance, click here to learn from the pros.

3 Look at the audience

Direct eye contact creates a bond between speaker and listener, and the “presentation” then turns into a conversation. Direct eye contact will also help you, the speaker, ignore the other distractions in the room, such as doors opening and closing, or cell phones ringing, to be able to stay focused on the message. Studies have also suggested that sustained eye-focus exhibits confidence and authority. Enhance your public speaking skills by looking directly at the audience while telling your story.

4 Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

The world’s greatest speakers practice and perfect their delivery to make it both flawless and effortless. Hilary Clinton once said, “If you’re not comfortable with public speaking – and nobody starts out comfortable; you have to learn how to be comfortable – practice. I cannot overstate the importance of practicing. Get some close friends or family members to help evaluate you, or somebody at work that you trust.” The standard rule for giving speeches is “20 for 20”, meaning for every 20–minute speech you give, practice it at least 20 times.

5 Be human

Bring in aspects of your life to add tangible value that your audience can connect to. Embracing honesty and vulnerability will only strengthen your message, not take away from it. Take a look at this acceptance speech, where humility deepens the connection and resonates with the audience.