Good public speaking skills are equally important in life. You might have to deliver a speech at a friend’s wedding, prepare a note for a loved one, or inspire a group of volunteers at a charity event. In short, being a good public speaker can enhance your reputation, boost your self-confidence, and open up countless opportunities.
However, while good skills can open doors, poor ones can close them. For example, your boss might decide against promoting you after sitting through a badly-delivered presentation. You might lose a valuable new contract by failing to connect with a prospect during a sales pitch. Or you could make a poor impression with your new team, because you trip over your words and don’t look people in the eye.
Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skill
- If the first two parts of successful public speaking are caring and preparing, the third part is practicing and improving your presentation skills.
- If you have a tape recorder or, even better, a video camera, record yourself giving the talk from beginning to end. Then listen to it or watch it, and make notes on how you could make it better.
- If you’ve a video camera, look into the camera and use the same facial expressions and the same body gestures that you would use if you were speaking directly to someone. When you critique yourself, be very hard on yourself. Remember, the more honest and objective you can be about how you come across to others, the faster you will build effective communication skills for success.
- Practice makes perfect, and perfect practice makes it even more perfect. If you practice consistently, you will find that your presentation skills have dramatically improved over time.
Remember, your ability to speak effectively in front of people can do more to advance your career and your life than perhaps any other skill you can develop.
Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking
It’s normal and natural for you to be nervous about public speaking, but you must overcome that fear to improve your presentation skills. Most people become nervous and uneasy at the very thought of standing up to speak in front of an audience, and their hearts pound.
When you speak, try to engage your audience. This makes you feel less isolated as a speaker and keeps everyone involved with your message. If appropriate, ask leading questions targeted to individuals or groups, and encourage people to participate and ask questions.
Public speaking is a critical, but often underdeveloped, skill among higher education professionals. Your ability to convey ideas with confidence and clarity is essential for articulating the importance of your research, getting buy-in for your projects and obtaining funding from sponsors.