There are many important skills you need to acquire nowadays. There are discussions we have had where we discussed some of them. One of such skills is public speaking. Some people seem to not yet realize how important public speaking is. It does not matter what industry you are in or what skills you have. Public speaking is universally important. Reminds me of something Lee Iacocca once said, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you cannot get them across, your ideas will not get you anywhere”. Often time putting across your ideas, thoughts, or opinions require public speaking. Here are some cardinal rules for public speaking:
Be Well Prepared
Preparation starts with being fully abreast of your subject matter. If you do not fully know the details of what you will be talking about you will be doomed. No amount of tactics can hide that you do not know what you are talking about. Know your subject matter. Lay out the structure of how you will talk about it. Spend lots of time fine-tuning the details and proof-checking everything. Find time to rehearse as well; very important. If you can even visit the venue beforehand that will be great. Do your homework on the nature of the audience you will be dealing with. These are all aspects centered on preparing yourself. There is of course more but you get the idea.
Voice Pitch And Pace Must Be Coherent With The Content
Voice pitch refers to the relative highness or lowness of your voice’s tone as perceived by the listener. When conducting public speaking, you should not stick to a monotone throughout the presentation. You have to vary your voice pitch appropriately in sync with what you are saying. This means there are times you should lower your voice and times you should raise it. What you will be saying at any given time will inform on that; be strategic. Overall, do not be too loud or too low. Settle for a comfortable pitch that does not choke you. However, it should also be comfortably audible to the audience. Tied to that is the pace of your voice. It should neither be too fast nor too slow; strike a healthy balance.
Strike A Healthy Balance Between Educating And Entertaining – Edutainment
The respective subject matter varies depending on what your public speaking engagement is about. However, there is a rule of thumb that is universal. That is, you must seek creative ways to edutain. That is the only way you will get your audience hooked and engaged. Understandably public speaking is majorly focused on informing i.e. educating on something. It should not be boring though. You must spice it up with an entertainment element. This means you should also make people laugh, excited, amazed, and so on. Find ways to throw in anecdotes, jokes, allegories, illustrations, and so on. When you blend the educating element with the entertaining element, your public speaking will be striking. Remember it should be a healthy balance – do not overdo it or force it.
Focus On Simplicity And Minimalism
Make this your mantra whenever you do public speaking – “I will be simple and minimal”. Develop and master the ability to say much in fewer words. You must also master the ability to be impactful yet use simple everyday words. It is said that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Sometimes people have a misconception of thinking that you have to say much and do a lot. In saying and doing too much errors become inevitable. Being simple and minimal even helps you focus on only the essentials. Plus you will not risk spending too much time. Spending too much time may end up boring the audience.
Be Conscious Of And Deliberate With Your Body Language
One of the most important components of public speaking is your body language. Your body language is typically a function of your psychology. Regardless, you can be conscious of and deliberate with your body language. There are certain body language elements you should use when public speaking. One of them is maintaining eye contact. You have to do this strategically though. It is advised that for every thought or statement, your eyes should be locked on someone in the audience.
Then you shift your eyes to another person and move on to another thought or statement. Stand firmly with your legs spread apart appropriately and avoid pacing around. Have your head held high, chin up, and chest out. You must also avoid fidgeting. Use your hand gestures strategically and sparingly. These are just some examples but the bottom line is you should not let your body language falter. Engage a professional to coach you if need be because body language is pertinent.
Be Wary Of Cognitive Overload
Cognitive overload is defined as a state of mental exhaustion that happens when one’s working memory is subjected to intense pressure to process too much information. In public speaking do not lose sight of the fact that it is about the audience and not you. Yes, you may be fully knowledgeable of what you are talking about but what about the audience? You have to ensure that they understand it and they understand it comfortably. Otherwise, you may end up just talking to yourself. That is why you have to package what you say in easy-to-understand8-year-old ways. Explain things like you are talking to a 5 or 8 year old child.
The final cardinal rule for today is to read the room. Do not be so overly focused on your presentation that you do not read your audience. Reading your audience will give you valuable feedback that may help you tweak or improvise accordingly. For example, by reading the room you can quickly note there is cognitive overload or people are not engaged. By adhering to these 7 cardinal rules of public speaking you will excel in public speaking. Always remember to practice.