PPR Strategies


Speaking Tips

By: Adrienne Lawrence

Getting up in front of a crowd, even a small one, can be nerve wracking. But not to worry. With a few key tips, you’ll have the audience laughing with your jokes and paying attention to every word.

1. Know your topic. Be it a history of your family, Sunday school lesson, or talking about your career, make sure you know why you’ve been asked to speak and then have a good idea of what you will say. You don’t have to have a script to follow, especially since that can seem a bit mechanical. Rather, make sure to prepare some key topics to hit on and elaborate a little on each. But don’t go over board, you don’t want the audience sitting for too long, their minds will start to wander.

2. Use specific examples. The best way to illustrate a point is to use your own experiences. It not only proves to the audience that you know what you are talking about, but it also helps draw them in because they can better understand you.

3. Make eye contact, but don’t stare them down. With a Western audience, they automatically assume you respect them when you look them in the eye while speaking. If you don’t, it’s as if you didn’t respect them or are unable to overcome your fear of public speaking. Be brave, look them in the eye and don’t just look at one or two people.

4. Listen to what you are saying. It’s great when the audience listens to you, but it’s even better when you listen to yourself. If you let yourself ramble and not pay attention to what you are saying, it’s likely that you make an error and the audience will likely tune you out. Besides, if you aren’t listening, why should they?

5. Dress appropriately. If you are talking about clowns and the art of being a good clown, then wear the clown suit. If not, I don’t recommend it. If you aren’t sure what to wear, or there isn’t a specific dress code, wear a suit with a coat and if everyone is dressed business casual, you can take the coat off and fold-up your sleeves.

6. Be kind and easygoing. Practice can really help you to calm nerves during a presentation. It gives your body a way to relax and recall the rehearsal, plus you will be more easygoing which will also help retain your audience’s interest. Kindness is also good because a gracious presenter is always better than someone who is a bit too brusque.

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