We can all think of a time when we were captivated by a speaker—whether it was a politician, a celebrity, or an expert. But what made their presentation so captivating, and how can we capture the attention of audiences like they did?
Fortunately, being an effective speaker is a skill just like anything else. Being successful merely requires practice and an understanding of what makes a presentation engaging. With that in mind, here are five tips to help you find your inner orator.
Playing to your strengths is important. One of the most important aspects of public speaking is appearing natural and confident, and that will be hard to accomplish if you’re trying to copy someone else’s style. If you’re naturally soft-spoken, you shouldn’t feel the need to imitate the thunder of a fire-and-brimstone preacher when driving a point home. Work within your skillset to pick the most effective rhetorical tool for the job, and your audience will recognize your authenticity.
Different audiences require unique approaches and respond differently to certain tactics. Make sure you understand who you’re speaking to, and what speaks to them. This may require some research on your part before the actual presentation or some adaptation on the spot based on the reactions you are receiving. Knowing what your audience is looking to get out of your presentation will help you craft an appealing and persuasive message.
The more you prepare, the more confident you’ll be. If you’ve mastered your material and know what you’re going to say, you’ll be at ease and free to focus on details like how your audience is reacting instead of what you’re going to say next. Besides good preparation, practicing with coworkers or friends can calm your nerves and provide you with useful feedback.
Nonverbal communication is just as important as what you say, and it can have a huge impact on how your audience reacts to your presentation. You want to make sure that your body language projects comfort and confidence, but you also want to ensure that it matches the energy of your presentation.
No one expects your first time presenting in front of a large audience or a room full of senior executives to be perfect, so embrace any mistakes you make as opportunities to learn and grow. By incorporating feedback from others or improving on details that you notice yourself, you can work to make each presentation stronger than the last.
The prospect of presenting can make anyone apprehensive, but it is important to remember that with the proper preparation and mindset, it’s an activity to be enjoyed, not dreaded. The ability to communicate effectively and persuasively is a skill that will serve you well at all stages in your career, so be intentional about continuing to improve.