Speaking before a large group of people can be daunting, but it needn’t be that way. Public oratory is at the same time both an art and a science, and whilst your delivery will only improve with practice you can master the basics quickly by following a few simple rules.What is more developing your oratorical skills can be of great benefit to you in business, providing a powerful tool through which you can communicate information to colleagues and clients more effectively. Here are a few tips for overcoming your fears and getting the audience behind you in next to no time:
#1: Understand Your Audience
What you say and how you say it will depend a great deal upon who is listening, and whether you are trying to sell a product or service or simply provide information. Audiences can be passionate or staid, serious or jovial, conservative or adventurous. Whilst your presentation will always be your own, you should try where possible to get a handle on what your listeners are expecting from you. If you get them on side they will encourage you rather than put up barriers, and be tolerant of any nervousness or mistakes. As author Brent Gleeson writing for the influential Inc.com points out, “knowing the demographic of the audience is imperative”.
#2: Take Your Cue from Your Listeners
Sometimes the only way to know how your speech is going down with the crowd at a business event is to look into their eyes as you are delivering it. Facial expressions and body language betray a great deal and if you are becoming disengaged from your audience then your immediate task is to steer the discussion promptly back on course. Entrepreneur Europe lists this as one of the very most important skills in when it comes to public speaking with confidence.
#3: Use Eye Contact
Depending upon how large your gathering is, one effective way of ensuring the attention of those present is to make eye contact with as many of them as possible in the course of delivering your speech or making your business pitch. Having the speaker focusing on them will make it difficult for their attention to drift as they will be self-conscious and aware.
#4: Make Your Layout Work for You
One of the most important considerations when preparing to give a speech is how, in practical terms, you intend your talk to be delivered. Are you wanting to read it verbatim? Will you operate from a short list of bullet points? Or is it to be entirely impromptu and off the cuff? If you want to read from notes it would help you if there is a lectern where they can be rested. If you are using a table at waist height then make sure your text is large enough for you to read without having to focus your vision when you should be spending most of your time looking at the audience.
#5: Make Body Language Proportionate
Some public speakers like to make hand gestures to emphasize the points they are making. This is fine if it suits your style, but if it is overdone it can look false, inauthentic and even downright ridiculous. As a rule of thumb, if it feels uncomfortable then it probably looks uncomfortable and as such should be curtailed or avoided. The key to a successful business pitch is always to make it look and feel believable.