Very few people are naturally-born speakers.
The thing is, if you start doing more speaking engagements, you will become more recognized as an expert in your field. It can get you a lot more attention for your business too.
So there are a lot of benefits to getting into the game, but there’s also a lot to know.
Check out the following 10 keys for improving as a speaker and getting more opportunities.
- Just Get Started
People tend to have a lot of fears associated with public speaking. This stops them from doing anything.
But not you, right? You’re serious about becoming a better speaker and getting more opportunities.
Speaking might make you nervous, and that’s not the least bit unusual. The point is to gain some experience. The sooner you can get your feet wet, the better.
Don’t aim small either. Find the biggest audience you can, and start speaking in front of them. When you have a larger number of people in a room, you have a better chance of connecting with at least some of them. You can worry about trying to connect with all of them later.
- Play To Your Audience
Even if you know you’re going to be giving the same speech or presentation for a while, you should avoid delivering it exactly the same way every time.
You have to customize your approach, even if it’s just a little bit. If you’re speaking at New Media Expo, then you might want to address the audience accordingly, just as an example.
Always be thinking about who your audience is, and then you’ll be better prepared to add value to them in the way that they need.
- Let Yourself Cheat… A Little
One of the major fears of most people is forgetting their lines onstage.
That can be problematic if you stall out, and can’t remember what it is you were trying to say. A little bit of silence is totally acceptable, and should even be used for proper effect at times, but it’s not good if you freeze up.
Well, there’s nothing wrong with putting your script in your slides. That way, you can look back at your slide if need be, and read it off word-for-word. Just don’t do this too many times, or your audience will be on to the fact that you don’t know your material at all.
- Gesture & Move Around
Speakers that move around too much are distracting. Even more distracting are those who don’t move their arms at all, and stay standing completely still in one spot.
Moving around shows that you’re confident onstage. Gesturing shows that you are passionate about the subject matter.
A good speaker always moves around and gestures, at least to some extent.
- Watch Other Speakers You Like
It’s not a crime to take inspiration from others. You’ll probably want to avoid outright plagiarism, but there’s nothing wrong with observing other speakers and learning from them.
Find some speakers you like, and take some pointers. As with anything in life, observing others can go a long way towards making you better.
- Share Your Stories
Data, stats, facts, and insights are all great, but the thing that really connects with people is story. Stories make you more relatable and more human, and really helps you drive a point home too.
Stories of others are good too, but share your own personal experiences as much as possible. No one has your exact point of view or life story, so there’s nothing more powerful than your own stories.
- Keep It Simple
It probably seems like trite advice, but your presentations will resonate with more people if you make the effort to keep them simple.
The more knowledgeable you are, the greater your tendency will be to complicate the subject matter. But this makes it harder to remember all of your points, and the general audience might not be able to grasp everything you’re trying to impart.
You don’t want to bore people, nor do you want to overwhelm them. No matter how much or how little experience you have, remember to keep your message simple.
Again, it probably seems obvious, but the more you practice, the better you will get at speaking.
If you know you’re going to be giving an important presentation, you probably shouldn’t leave anything to chance. Improvisation doesn’t work our quite as well as you might think it would.
When you know your material well, you’ll feel more at ease. You’ll be able to have more fun, and your speech will come across as being more natural too.
- Share Something No One Knows
Your audience is there to learn something from you. If all you do is reiterate information they can easily find elsewhere, they’re less likely to take away something from your talk.
Surprise the attendees. Find a fact or a data figure that’s going to throw them for a loop. Maybe share something about yourself they’re not likely to know.
A little bit of surprise can go a long way. This will get the attention of the audience, and then hold it too.
- Relate To Your Audience
When you’re onstage, you’re already the assumed “expert”. If you try to come across as smart and superior, odds are you’ll create a greater distance between you and the audience.
So stay away from trying to “wow” people. It might end up having the opposite effect. Great speakers are often praised for their ability to make a complicated concept simple, and not a simple topic complex!
Also, don’t do a sales pitch onstage. The temptation is always there, because you might want to promote your new book or product or whatever, but at the end of the day it just puts a lot of pressure on the talk. When you help people, they’ll also want to help you, so focus on helping people first.
Becoming a better speaker will lead to more opportunities. At first, you may have to take whatever you can get, just for the experience, but in time, as you add to your portfolio, you’ll be able to get even better gigs.
Don’t be afraid to do it for free to begin with. Money will come, but all in good time. Focus first on perfecting your presentation and bringing value to audiences everywhere you go.