How to become better at public speaking

How to become better at public speaking

Dhriti Datta | 12 Apr 2020

From giving presentations, motivational talks, propositions, etc., to giving speeches in front of massive crowds, public speaking is a skill that finds applications in a host of career verticals. Not only this, meek and quiet individuals are often relegated to the background in companies when making important decisions in favor of their more eloquent colleagues. Positions across experience levels and industries require some amount of public speaking to become successful. Practicing and improving this rudimentary skill can do wonders for your professional career. Additionally, careers that rely largely on public speaking or 'behind-the-camera' public speaking such as streaming, YouTube, vlogging and more are really taking off in today's digitally-connected world. 

Firstly, it is integral to work on your delivery. Even the best-written speeches can fall flat on their faces if not delivered with conviction. The audience must be able to hear and understand the information you are disseminating. Cutting out filler words such as 'um' or 'uh' or 'ah' is important. These fillers can make your message disjointed and the audience will start to lose their interest in what is being said. Memorizing your script can cause the use of the fillers extensively, therefore, simply having an idea of ​​the message you want to relay and then adapting as you go will deliver better results. There are several public-speaking training apps on different platforms that help you avoid filler words and more.

Public speakers must also speak more slowly than they would in a normal conversation to ensure clarity and impact. Strategically placed pauses can give your audience a moment to think about what you just said, and are especially useful to drive home an impactful statement or point. You must train to use varying pitches too since a monotone voice can be extremely dreary. Attempt to broaden your vocabulary and also know the correct way to pronounce words. You can use apps for this, as well as just type in a word into Google and press the 'speaker' button next to it, to listen to the correct pronunciation.Google also provides you with a 'Learn how to pronounce Tab' that provides you with the phonetic spelling of the word and also lets you choose between British, English or Indian English pronunciation. 

It is important to assess and be mindful about your body posture as well. Sitting slightly slumped while streaming a video game may be fine, but being slouched while speaking in front of a large crowd such as TEDx speeches is not acceptable. Stand upright, but be relaxed and avoid swaying too much while speaking. Use your arm and hand gestures to make a point. Move from one side of the stage to the other, if your mic is not grounded and make it a point to match your facial expressions and overall energy to the tone of what you're saying.

You also need to connect with your audience. You can use terms and metaphors your audience is familiar with, make direct eye contact with various members of the audience, ask questions and encourage input. It is also helpful if you make your presentation interesting and relatable. Start with an anecdote, joke, or a surprising statistic to grab their attention. You can also use beautiful visual charts, photos, and videos to illustrate your points. 

Lastly, all the tips in the world can't help you unless you practice religiously. Practice at home, in front of your peers, classroom, teachers, parents and more. Join debate groups and enroll for online public-speaking courses or physical public-speaking classes. Just talk more in general, even when you're in a group with your friends. Recount incidents, talk about your work, school, life or anything else. Becoming a public-speaker is an excellent skill to have, something that will not be rendered useless anytime in the near (or distant) future, no matter what your job.

Apps you can use to improve public-speaking:

Ummo - an iOS app that tracks your 'umms' and 'uhhs', along with pace, word power, clarity and more. 
LikeSo or LikeSo Pro - This app trains you against your incorrect verbal habits such as using 'like' and 'so' too much
Public Speaking VR - available on Gear VR and Oculus Go, this VR apps helps you practice public-speaking in a realistic VR setting
Voice Analyst - This app analyses your volume and pitch as you record your speech and provides real-time visual, acoustic and statistical feedback
Samsung BeFearless - another VR app with a self-training VR program that consists of 3 modes - school, business and daily life

 

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Dhriti Datta

Perpetually sporting a death stare, this one can be seen tinkering around with her smartphone which she holds more dear than life itself and stuffing her face with copious amounts of bacon.

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