Becoming a better speaker

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[vimeo id="112852843"] Have you ever had stage fright? Have you ever completely forgotten what you were going to say because of all those faces that were staring at you? I understand the feeling. I do a good deal of speaking, in fact, I speak to the freshman class at Southeastern University four or five times a semester. Each time I step on the stage in Bush Chapel, I bring public speaking tools with me. I’ve learned over the years as a sports anchor, a pastor and now the president of a university. Being a good speaker doesn’t just happen in one day, it takes work and you can always keep improving. Anytime I see someone give good advice about speaking, I like to learn it and share it.

So, here are few things that Mark Sanborn suggested about becoming a stronger public speaker. I’ll share a few of my own thoughts as well.

First, start with certainty. Memorize your opening remarks and speak with confidence. One thing I like to do is write out my speeches. Even if I don’t read it word for word, it definitely guides my train of thought and helps me stay focused on the main message that I want to deliver. There’s still room to improvise during the actual speech, but writing out your message definitely gives a great road map of your presentation.

Second, make movement purposeful. Pay attention to your hand movements and be aware of what your natural tendencies are on stage. Unnatural movements are awkward to watch, and too much movement is distracting. My suggestion is to try and harness your movements in a way that will help you communicate the point. For instance, if you’re making your main point in a speech, your body language can help nail it down. So, be intentional with your movements.

Third, provide evidence to prove the points you make. I love to tell stories whenever I speak. The power of story is in the fact that it illustrates the point you’re making. In other words it brings flesh to the bones. Your stories can be fiction as well as nonfiction. Either way, they deliver even more of a punch with your message.

Fourth, be crystal clear on what you want listeners to walk away with. What do you want people to remember? The best way to do this is to make your main point as simple as possible. People will seldom remember complex points, but if you simplify it to a few good take home points, people will definitely remember them. It’s important to realize that even though you might be an expert on a subject, other people may not be, so you have to make the presentation as approachable as possible. This is why simplicity will be your best ally.

Five, end as definitively as you started. I couldn’t agree more with Mark on this point. I firmly believe that a strong closing is just as important as a strong opening. I recommend you prepare a robust statement that will stick with the audience and will make them remember you – this should be your take-home-point. Make this the punch that everything in your presentation has been building towards. Speak with confidence and put some passion and conviction into your words.

Thanks for checking out my blog today, I hope these ideas encouraged you to become a stronger public speaker and confident presenter. If you have any follow up thoughts, please feel free to respond below. I hope you have a great day today!