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10 tips to help you become a confident public speaker

by Diana Ryall on August 16, 2016
Career

When we need to show confidence we all have our tricks.  For me, I need to wear high heels when I speak in public.  Perhaps it’s because I am on the short side or maybe it just makes me feel stronger.  I also prefer to stand and use a lapel microphone rather than a handheld or a lectern.  These are all things that help me present in public in a confident fashion.

Confidence is a tricky thing – it can be there one minute and gone the next and yet it is so important for our personal presence.

Here are 10 tips that may help you in delivering presentations and become a confident public speaker:

  1. Introduction – If you can have someone else introduce you.  It is often easier for someone else to give you a strong introduction rather than trying to do it yourself.
  2. Stand tall – You will feel more confident if you have a first grip on the earth.  Place your feet about hip width apart and please don’t cross the legs and rock if you are in front of an audience.
  3. Sit tall – When you lift your shoulders and straighten your back, you will feel more confident.  Don’t slouch back.  So much of it is in the angle of your hips and the straightness of your back.
  4. Don’t preen – For many women flipping and stroking their hair is a habit.  When in front of a group, this can be very distracting for the observers.
  5. Avoid pet phrases – Some people use a pet phrase throughout their presentations.  This can be distracting for the audience.  Things like ‘um, ok, all right’ repeated too often may encourage the audience to start counting.  Ask a trusted friend or tape your presentation to determine if you do this.
  6. Change pace – When I am nervous I tend to speed up and forget to pause.  Remember, your audience needs those pauses to absorb your words.  Some repetition works but don’t overdo it.
  7. Vary your pitch – Some presenters talk in a monotone with little change of pace or pitch.  This is likely to make it difficult for your audience to hear your key messages.
  8. Lost for words? – If you lose your train of thought just take a minute, breathe, take a sip of water and looks at your notes.  I normally have a list of dot points that I want to make in the order I want to make them.
  9. Someone interrupts – Stop, don’t try to go in competition.  Either point out you were not finished or when they finish just ask ‘may I continue’.
  10. Keep it simple – When you are speaking to a group, don’t fill in every second with words, vary your speech and keep your messages simple.

Diana Ryall
Diana Ryall is a leading voice and advocate for Gender Equality in Australia. She promotes women achieving their career aspirations, and challenges men to examine their assumptions about women and their careers. In 2002, Diana founded Xplore for Success, a consultancy that specialises in educating and supporting professionals to achieve career and personal success. Over the past 13 years, more than 11,000 women and men have benefited from Xplore’s career development programs, including participants from organisations like American Express, CBA, Deloitte, Department of Commerce, GHD, Lend Lease, Luxottica, KPMG, NAB and QBE.
 
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