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Public Speaking: 7 Secrets of Great Public Speakers

Dec 29, 2007
The major secret of great speakers is that they do not think about themselves during a talk. Great speakers prepare and practice before the big event and when the big event comes, they think about their audience.

At its core, public speaking is not about your image or ego. It is about communicating a message and that means connecting with an audience.

Here are seven ways of creating an experience that will wow audiences and make sure they come away with your message:

1. Respect Your Audience.This means you view your audience as your equals. You neither look down on them nor crawl before them in hopes of winning their approval. You make some effort to find out what information they already have. That way, you can offer a presentation that gives them something new and does not insult their intelligence.

2. Listen to the Audience. Communication is a two-way street. Even when you are the only one talking, your audience will communicate with you through facial expressions and body language. Listen to these communications, so that you can give the audience what they need. If you see a lot of confused looks, slow down, back up and repeat your last statement. If you see sleepy body language, speak up, use gestures and visual aids to inject energy into the room.

3. Maximize Learning. The most effective speeches cover enough material to be engaging, but not too much. Ideally, you should make three to five clear points, but never more than seven. Give an overview of the main points in your introduction and a recap of them in your conclusion. The rest of your material should be facts that accurately support those points. If you can state the main points concisely, your audience can learn them.

4. Speak Their Language.In most cases, the shortest, most direct words are the best. However, there are some situations that call for academic, technical or other jargon. Even in the most academic settings though, listeners appreciate easy to remember words and phrases. Unless you are a comedian with a very tolerant audience, absolutely avoid profane or crude language.

5. Make Them Comfortable.Make the audience stiff and unresponsive by memorizing your speech. As much as possible, speak as if you are having a conversation with a very comfortable friend about something you care about. That does not mean being loud and obnoxious: it means you capture the feeling of sharing something you are excited about. If you think your topic is not exciting, do some work to identify why it is important. This helps your audience feel comfortable with you and enthusiastic about your topic.

6. Show Them What You Are Talking About. Use high-quality visual aids to help drive your message home. It does not need to be complicated. For instance, a talk about the life of Benjamin Franklin would benefit from something as simple as his portrait. Other aids are PowerPoint slides with a minimum of text listing your main points or slides of art prints.

7. Be Honest. When you give a presentation, you are trying to change something about your audience like increase their knowledge, change their beliefs or habits and convince them to take a particular action. A great speaker does any or all of that by giving an ethical speech. That means you avoid plagiarism, falsehood or exaggeration. Even in a persuasive speech, you never try to force, coerce or deceive. What you want is to teach and convince with clean, logical argument and concrete evidence.

Connecting with an audience is an art with foundational rules like any other art. You have learned these seven methods in just a few minutes. You can devote a lifetime to mastering them and so become a truly great public speaker.
About the Author
Ranju is assistant editor at MindPower Marketing, which helps entrepreneurs and independent professionals to earn more by making their marketing and communication more persuasive. For tips on more persuasive communication, sign up for the free eclass
mastering public speaking
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