Presenting to a crowd wouldn’t be at the top of most people’s list of favourite activities, but it is nonetheless an essential skill to have in business.
In order to establish leadership and advance your career, you must be adept at getting your point across clearly and coherently, and this applies whether you’re presenting to a small group or a packed-out conference hall.
In this article, we explore some of the best strategies for improving your public speaking skills, and we’ve also compiled a list of tips that will help you develop those skills for a corporate environment.
Why are public speaking skills important?
Being a skilled communicator is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate knowledge and leadership and influence others, giving you the platform needed to assume leadership roles.
In fact, according to Forbes, ‘getting comfortable with public speaking’ is one of the most important things you can do to advance your career.
Tips to improve your public speaking skills
Public speaking is not one skill in itself — rather, it is a complex set of techniques and tactics that combine into one incredibly powerful skill set.
The best place to start practising is in your everyday conversations, both in and out of the office. By incorporating public speaking tips into your daily life, you can steadily improve your skills and become much more comfortable presenting to a crowd.
If you’ve delivered a presentation before, you are probably already familiar with the basics such as tailoring your content to your audience, preparing talking points beforehand, and rehearsing with a friend or in front of the mirror.
Here are some more tips that can help you to further develop your skills:
Study other speakers
One of the best ways to develop your public speaking skills is to watch and learn from the best. Search for powerful speeches on YouTube, or go through the extensive library of TED talks and speeches on Toastmasters International.
You will most likely notice the same tactics and techniques being used by all the best speakers, which you can then practice yourself.
- Keep your body language open, relaxed and inviting
- Gesticulate to highlight key points
- Pace yourself and pause to allow key points to sink in
- Avoid unnecessary fidgeting
- Use humour and anecdotes where appropriate to keep the audience engaged
Control your pace
Being nervous often makes us speak faster than normal, and your audience may struggle to keep up. Take several deep breaths to calm your nerves beforehand, and be mindful of your pace as you speak. Make sure to check out the ‘7/11’ breathing tip here.
Communicate with body language
During a speech, people are not just listening to your words — they are also picking up on subtle non-verbal cues, and your body language can give a huge amount away without you even realising it.
For example, if your shoulders are hunched and you’re looking at the ground, then no amount of projecting your voice will convince the audience that you are confident in your abilities.
- Make eye contact with members of the audience
- Keep your posture upright and confident
- Don’t just stand there — move around in a relaxed, natural way
Use visual aids
Visual aids can help you to emphasise key points and keep your audience engaged, but make sure you steer clear of text-heavy slides that can overwhelm your audience. Instead, use bullet points, graphs and images. Remember, visual aids should support your presentation, not distract from it.
Record and evaluate your public speaking skills
Recording your practice sessions and real-life presentations can be extremely helpful for improving your skills. Watch the recordings, taking note of your body language, your pacing, and how your voice sounds. This will help you to identify any areas of weakness so you know what to work on in future.
How to apply public speaking skills in a corporate environment
Strong public speaking skills are not just useful when it comes to presenting to a crowd. They are also an essential component of corporate communication, which is essential for communicating your company’s vision, values, mission and culture, as well as demonstrating your leadership capabilities.
As purported by the Harvard Business Review, great communication skills can also ‘help you to land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organisation.’
Here are some tips to improve your corporate communication skills:
- Make your conversations more collaborative and productive by allowing others a chance to speak and offer their ideas
- Practice ‘active listening’ — pay attention, understand what’s being said, reflect on it, and respond appropriately
- Where possible, incorporate elements of your company culture into all of your business communications, both internal and external
- Have a deep understanding of your company’s organisational structure and give your employees the tools and software they need to communicate and work together efficiently
- Deal with sensitive issues promptly — A direct discussion can often resolve any interpersonal or professional issues quickly, without allowing resentment or negative feelings to fester
- Develop your ‘people’ memory — Remembering personal details about your employees will help to foster a deeper, more meaningful relationship and make you a better leader
For more expert tips on improving your public speaking and corporate communication skills, check out two of our previously published articles entitled How To Improve Your Presentation Skills In A Corporate Environment and Why Presentation Skills Are Essential To Every Business.
Public speaking skills training
If you need to establish and develop your public speaking skills to excel in the corporate environment, NxtGEN Executive Presence is here to help.
We offer a wide range of training programmes, so if you need to improve your public speaking or corporate communication skills, we can tailor our packages to meet your needs.
Get in touch today and start a programme that will improve your corporate communication skills, establish your leadership, and make you a world-class public speaker.