4 Ways to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills and Ace Your Presentations

By: Ali Sakr

We’ve all dreaded it at some point. The thought of standing in front of other human beings, having to actually say something which they’re all supposed to listen to – it’s not the easiest thought to digest. To add to this, we’re very often bombarded by normalized but actually incredibly weird advice like imagining the audience naked, which doesn’t make that much sense, and most of the time just straight up doesn’t work.

Here are a few pieces of advice I think might actually work in allowing you to become more skilled and comfortable when it comes to public speaking.

1-Start Small

Trying to speak in front of a huge crowd might seem quite terrifying, but perhaps doing so in front of a group of around 5 friends isn’t as daunting a feat. Starting by telling a few friends a story when you’re out can have a surprising impact on your confidence and how comfortable you are with speaking in front of people. 

From this point forth you can start working yourself up the ladder of social discomfort; getting yourself acquainted with more gradually growing crowds, such as more, less close friends, family members, and eventually complete strangers. You might think this is a bit too vague, and rightfully so. The details will follow.

2-Put yourself in the situation

We often need quite a push in order to get something done, and this here is no exception. If you’re ever presented with an opportunity to speak before an audience, say yes. Agree before your body has a chance to react and try to convince you it’s a terrible idea, because the only way you can really get better at this is by practice. The more times you do this, the more you’ll get used to taking up these opportunities, and hence actually speaking in front of people.

3-Embrace awkwardness but don’t linger

If you’re reading this article – or quite frankly, if you’re anyone out there – there’s a high chance that you’ll make some mistake while talking in public. Now, everyone loves a good laugh, and taking any awkward matters lightly with a little joke about yourself can make you seem more charismatic and actually divert attention from the actual mistake, but don’t go too overboard. Some mistakes everyone is willing to look past in order to listen to what you have to say, so keep it flowing unless you already hear a chuckle in the background.

4-Always be prepared

It can be pretty tempting to confuse being a bad public speaker with simply not knowing what you’ll say beforehand. Yes, preparation will not guarantee success, but more times than not its lack will guarantee failure. Practice what you’ll be saying on yourself, and put more focus on the flow of ideas rather than the exact wording, since you’ll likely forget that in the actual moment, so no need to pile up even more stress.

***

Still, though, you might want to be able to improvise and simply speak in public whenever someone points at you with no preparation whatsoever. This is a skill that will take plenty of time to master, so focus on the tips mentioned above first and this’ll just come with time. It’ll build upon both experience and comfort, allowing you to speak in front of a crowd as though you were speaking to yourself in the mirror. Stay relaxed, focused, and get to it. Everyone will be listening.

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