Whether you’re running a small business, a large corporation, or a meager startup, you must learn how to be effective at public speaking. The size of the crowd will vary, but the importance of your message and delivery will not. If you cannot convince a roomful of investors to give you capital, or an office full of doubt to trust in the company’s future, you will fail. Here are a few important fundamentals you must master if you want to speak effectively.
Have Something Important to Say
Charisma will make them remember you, but your content will make them remember what you said. Communicating well is important, but you must have something valuable to say. Value in public speaking often comes down to what your audience finds important. If it doesn’t matter to the listener, it shouldn’t be in your speech.
If you’re having trouble figuring out what to tell them, think about what you want them to walk away with. What should they have gained from listening to you? What should they thinking about as they listen and when they go home? Every point in your speech much relate to them in some manner, as well as directly support your main theme.
Be on Their Side
It’s not said often, but it should be – you should be on the listener’s side. No one wants to go to a meeting only to get insulted or laughed at. You’re speaking to them to improve them, not to tear them down. Snarky remarks may make you memorable, but not in the way you need. Every meeting or council must end with the listeners trusting you more than when they entered.
It doesn’t take a lot for people to form judgments of you. Unfair or not, that’s the way it is. Respect them at every opportunity. If you don’t respect the majority of your audience, rethink whether or not you should speak to them at all.
Be Honest and Trustworthy
If you lie, people will find out. They may not find out immediately, but they’ll find out. Any inconsistencies in your facts will be revealed and shared, which can irreparably damage your personal brand, as well as your business’s brand. Even using an anecdote you stole from someone else can ruin your speech. The moment someone realizes something is amiss, everything crumbles and your speech becomes weaker as a result.
Fact check everything you’re planning on saying. If you’re not sure about its veracity, do your research. If it’s not your story, give credit or cut it out. All it takes is a seed of doubt for your authority to crumble, and if the audience doesn’t trust you, nothing you say or do will reach them.
Pay Attention To How Your Audience Reacts
No speech is static. Most, if not all, effective public speakers go off script, depending on how the audience reacts. There is a level of extemporaneous speaking involved in all forms of public speech through how you adjust it according to audience cues.
Pay attention to the room and how people are taking to your speech. If it feels awkward or people look disinterested, change your approach. If they’re excited, continue as you were. You’re not dictating, you’re participating in a conversation. Even if the audience can’t immediately or verbally reply, they’re responding to your speech in their minds. Think of your speech as a guideline of talking points you must cover rather than a script to be obeyed at all costs.
Alienate as Few People as Possible
It doesn’t matter how well choose your words, you’re going to make someone mad. Therefore, it’s a matter of minimizing the number of people you alienate. This may involve avoiding certain topics if you want to make a point. As to what topics specifically, it depends on your audience and your content. If you’re not sure whether or not it’ll alienate people, err on the side of caution and rewrite that part.
However, it doesn’t mean you must censor yourself. It just means that you should measure the value of what you have to say and how you’ll say it versus the number of people who’ll stop listening if you include it in your speech. If your point or example is that important, keep it. Remember that you’re not here to be all-inclusive, but to minimize alienation.
Talking to a group is similar to talking to a single person. Many of the same rules apply, from how you must pay attention to their reactions to making sure you’re adding value to the conversation. You can practice your public speaking skills in more intimate settings, internalizing these guidelines as you go until you’re ready to speak to larger and larger groups. It may be difficult, but if you want your business to succeed, you must learn to become a great public speaker.Print this article