Knowing how to speak in public is a skill set that is increasingly required both in the context of training and in the professional context. Communication, in short, has come to be seen as a fundamental element of both learning and work, and so giving talks, exhibitions or conferences is the usual way of demonstrating that one is fluent in this area.
In this article we will see several tips on how to speak in public that go beyond techniques to avoid getting too nervous when speaking in front of a crowd of people.
How to speak well in public: 6 tips
In the following lines you will find varied techniques to make the most of your skills and knowledge when speaking in public, without letting the situation overtake you, and expressing yourself with the fluency and naturalness with which you would do it in front of a single individual.
However, you must bear in mind that these key ideas must be adapted to your case.
1. Learn the ideas, not the text
When preparing the content of the talk you are going to give, a good way not to fall into extreme nervousness is to rule out, from the beginning, the possibility of learning literally all the script you have written.
Instead, read the text over and over again and remember the idea you imply in each line .
In practice, the way you say it will be very similar to the formula you use to express yourself in the script (because there is a reason why you have chosen it as the best way to explain what you mean), and besides, your attention will not be divided between the effort of remembering and the concern for the image you are giving.
2. Opt for simplicity in the first sentences
At the beginning of a talk in which we speak in public, one of the main objectives is to capture the attention of the audience, and this is something that is achieved by using relatively simple, easy to understand, and not too long sentences.
This makes the session more bearable for the audience, but in fact is also a good thing for you, as a speaker . The reason for this is that it will be easier for you to speak during the first few sentences, something that will help “warm up” the muscles you need to move to vocalize well, and give you lots of support in the frequent pauses you will find at the end of sentences.
In addition, this advice also serves as a preventive measure to have a lower risk of making a mistake during the first minute of the talk, something that in itself would not be catastrophic in the eyes of the audience, but that can have a very stressful psychological effect on one’s self as a speaker, as the fear of having made a bad first impression appears.
3. Do visualization exercises
Another tip about how to talk in public without getting nervous or jumpy is to train yourself mentally for the kind of experience the talk is going to be .
To do this, close your eyes and imagine yourself speaking in public, having a very positive impact on your audience. Don’t stop to recreate the content of your speech; instead, focus on the details of your surroundings and people’s reactions , how they laugh at the joke you use, how they follow you with their eyes because of their interest in your message, etc.
This advice is to start thinking about the talk not only as a challenge, but also as a possible reward.
4. Don’t be afraid of silences
Not speaking for a while is not bad in itself, it is something that even if it is a consequence of going blank, it can be disguised .
So, prepare a little protocol about what you should do if you have some difficulty remembering what to say next: drink from a bottle of water, show a thoughtful expression, etc. Something as simple as that gives us more confidence in ourselves, since it acts as a mattress that protects us if we stumble at any time.
5. Gesticulate to facilitate your expressiveness
This advice has to do with not using arm and hand gestures as an imposture when speaking, but as a way to enhance expressiveness.
It may seem silly, but making hand movements that are consistent with the tone and musicality of your speech , as well as giving visual clues to the meaning of what you are saying, makes it easier to speak in a more expressive way.
In a manner of speaking, the muscles responsible for speech are synchronized with those you move with your arms, and both muscle groups move to work more smoothly, reinforcing each other.
6. Go to a specialist
A very good way to improve quickly when speaking in public is to have a professional who designs and supervises trainings of this type .
In the city of Valencia, Nacho Coller Porta is one of the most recommended psychologists who offer this kind of service, based on training in public speaking techniques and the supervision of real cases in which it is necessary to speak in front of other people. Here you can see him on video:
- McCornack, S. and Ortiz, J. (2017). Choices & Connections: An Introduction to Communication.
- Ridgley, S. K. (2012). The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting: What your professors don’t tell you… What you absolutely must know. Anthem Press.