Guest Contributor | Speaking

3 Tips to Prepare for your Next Public Speaking Opportunity

Written by Lindsay Boccardo

When you think about public speaking, what image comes to mind? Roaring applause? Connecting with an audience? Being in a state of flow?

Given the overwhelming fear of public speaking many of us face, it’s probably more like you standing on a stage, staring into a terrifying abyss of blackness, forgetting your lines, and sweating through your clothes.

Public speaking goes beyond giving speeches or presentations. Future leaders know that public speaking involves communicating with other human beings in meetings, via recorded video messages, during sales pitches, and when collaborating to solve problems. It’s why communicating with clarity and sincerity is vital to your success.

What matters most.

Your career, no matter your field, is all about communicating specific ideas with others. Think about what matters most when you’re communicating. Is it…

  • Speaking clearly?
  • Tone of voice?
  • Active listening?
  • Preserving the relationship?
  • Respect?

It’s hard to pick, but we can package all of these pieces into communicating with clarity and sincerity. But how can you bring clarity and sincerity into your communication?

First, reflect and plan.

Your message doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Gaining clarity about your audience and goals of your message drives the clarity needed for effective communication. Ask:

Who is your audience?

What do you know about your audience?

What do you want them to understand?

What would they gain if they were able to understand what you share?

What do you want to see happen by the end of this conversation?

What story can you use to drive your point home?

The answers to these six questions tell you where to put your focus. After you have clarity on what you want to share, then you’re ready to evaluate and plan how your nonverbal communication can boost your sincerity.

What’s my face saying?

Matching your nonverbal cues to the story you’re sharing drives how people perceive your sincerity. Not sure how you’re perceived? Record yourself giving your speech or presentation and pay attention to these:

  • Eye contact: Are you looking at an individual in the room(or the camera if virtual)? Connecting with one audience member through eye contact will draw in the rest. 
  • Facial expression: Does your face match your message? We trust people whose face matches their message. 
  • Gestures: What are your hands doing? After evaluating your face, your audience will take in what your hands are doing next. The good news–you can plan for gestures and practice them for your delivery. 
  • Posture: What does your hunched over posture communicate? Stand straight, relaxed,and with feet hip width apart to communicate confidence and control of the room.
  • Tone of voice: Are you using your range, rate, and clarity of voice to add color to your presentation? Varying these aspects of your voice engages the audience and helps them come along for the journey.

Practice makes perfect–or at least less nervous.

What do your third grade teacher, soccer coach, and piano instructor all have in common? They all repeatedly told you that practice makes perfect. And they were right. Not only will you feel confident and more relaxed with practice, you’ll improve people’s perception of your sincerity since being stressed out can make you appear less sincere.

Use these tips from expert speaker Lindsay Boccardo to prepare for your next public speaking opportunity.

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