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Speaking in front of an audience - tips for a successful presentation

Public Speaking: the art of impressing an audience

The art of public speaking combines mastery, emotion and connecting with the audience, creating an experience that stays in the hearts and minds of listeners.

How do you captivate an audience when you stand in front of them? That's the 1 million dollar question, right?

Whether you're an experienced speaker and presenter or just starting out, you'll find ideas here to help you improve your public speaking.

From university presentations to big speeches to sophisticated audiences, public speaking challenges us. This process of delivering a speech to an audience requires skill and mastery. It involves the skillful use of emotion, analogies, clear structure and an emotional connection with the audience.

Historical roots: since the time of Aristotle, the foundations of public speaking and oratory were laid.

Ethos, pathos and logos - are called the triangle of impact or the three pillars of public speaking. Emotion, logos, and connection with the audience also influence performance. The most powerful speeches bring together ethos, pathos and logos.

Structure and inspiration: the speech should be structured, filled with logical arguments and facts. But the real magic comes from the inspiration that creates a connection between the speaker and the listeners.

A successful speech engagesand interacts with the audience. Questions, examples and stories show respect for the listeners, engage and captivate. The right dose of humor and partnership with listeners make speaking unforgettable.

The art of public speaking is much more than words. It combines skill, emotion and connection, creating an experience that stays in the hearts and minds of listeners.

Here are a few tips to help you perform well when speaking in front of an audience, giving you the confidence and peace of mind that you can do it!

Show your passion and connect with your audience

It's hard to relax and be yourself when you're nervous.  But time and time again, great presenters and speakers say that the most important thingto connect with your audience, and the best way to do that is to give expression to your passion for the topic.

Be honest when talking to the audience about what is important to you and why it is important. Be enthusiastic and honest and the audience will respond.

Improve your skills with our training: The art of successful presentations

Focus on the needs of your audience

Your presentation should be built around what your listeners will get out of it.

As you prepare your speech, you should always keep in mind what the audience needs and wants to know, not what you can tell them.

While giving the presentation, you need to stay focused on the audience's reaction and respond to it.

You need to make it easier for listeners to understand and respond. 

Strive for clarity: focus on your core message

When planning your speech, you should always keep in mind the question: what is the key message (or three key messages) that my audience should receive and take away with them?

You need to be able to convey this key message very succinctly.  Some experts recommend a 30-second "elevator pitch," while others say you can say it in no more than 15 words. Whichever rule you choose, the important thing is to keep your main message focused and short.

Smile and maintain eye contact with attendees

This sounds very easy, but a surprising number of presenters don't do it.

If you smile and make eye contact, you build a connection that helps the audience connect with you and your subject. It also helps you feel less nervous because you're talking to individuals rather than a huge mass of strangers.

To help with this, make sure you don't turn off all the lights so that only the presentation screen is visible. Your audience should see both you and your slides.

Prepare a strong start

The beginning of your speech is crucial. You need to grab your audience's attention and hold it.

People will ONLY give you a few minutes in which to entertain them before they start switching off if you're boring. So don't waste them on explanations about who you are. Start with entertaining them.

Follow the 10-20-30 rule for slideshows

This is advice from Guy Kawasaki. He suggests that the slides of the presentation follow these conditions:

contain no more than 10 slides;

last no more than 20 minutes; and

use a font size no smaller than 30 point.

The latter is very important as it prevents trying to fit too much information on each slide. This approach avoids the dreaded "death by PowerPoint".

As a general rule, slides should be a supporting show for you, the presenter. A good set of slides should not be useful without the presenter and should definitely contain less, not more information.

If you need to provide more information, create a special brochure and hand it out after the presentation.

Tell stories

Human beings are programmed to respond to stories. Stories help us pay attention and also remember things. If you can use stories in your presentation, your audience is more likely to engage and remember your points afterwards. It's a good idea to start with a story, but there's a broader point: you need your presentation to act as a story.

Think about what story you're trying to tell your audience and design your presentation to tell it visually.

Намиране на историята зад вашата презентация

Finding the story behind your presentation

To tell a story effectively, focus on using at least one of the two most basic storytelling mechanics in your presentation:

Focus on characters - People have stories; things, data and objects don't. So ask yourself "who" is directly related to your topic that you can use as the focal point of your story.

For example, instead of talking about cars (your company's products), you can focus on specific personas like the drivers the car is designed for - people who seek speed and adventure

The engineers who set out to design the most economical car you can imagine Changing dynamics - a story needs something to change along the way. So ask yourself "What's wrong?" and answer what you're going to do about it (or what you've done about it).

For example... Did dangerous road conditions inspire you to create a rugged, all-terrain SUV that every family can afford?

Did the complicated and confusing food labelling system lead you to create a colour-coded nutritional index so that everyone could easily understand it?

Use your voice effectively

The spoken word is actually a rather ineffective means of communication because it uses only one of the audience's five senses. This is why speakers tend to use visual aids as well. But you can help improve your spoken word by using your voice effectively.

Varying your speaking speed and emphasizing changes in pitch and tone of voice help make your voice more interesting and hold the attention of your audience

Use your body

More than three quarters of communication is non-verbal. This means that, in addition to your tone of voice, your body language is also crucial to getting your message across. Make sure you're sending the right messages: body language to avoid includes crossed arms, hands held behind the back or in pockets, and pacing the stage.

Your gestures should be open and confident and you should move naturally on stage and, if possible, in the audience.

Relax, breathe and enjoy

If you find it difficult to present, it can be hard to be calm and relaxed while doing so.

One option is to start by concentrating on your breathing. Slow it down and make sure you are breathing fully. Make sure you keep pausing to breathe occasionally and throughout the presentation.

If you can relax, you will almost certainly deliver your presentation better. If you really start having fun, your audience will respond to that and engage better. Your presentations will improve exponentially, as will your confidence. It's worth a try.

What can we add about the art of public speaking?

Use emotions through your art of speaking

Emotions are a key factor in holding the audience's attention. Incorporate personal or moving stories that will impact your audience emotionally. Whether they evoke laughter, inspiration or reflection, the emotional connections you create will make your speech memorable and truly leave a mark.

Create images through analogies and metaphors

Metaphors and analogies are your allies in the effort to make your speech lively and memorable. Transform abstract ideas into concrete images that will be easier to digest. For example, if you are introducing a new product, describe it as "some familiar object." This approach will highlight the uniqueness of your material and make it interesting and deeply memorable.

Examples and case studies - a path to real connectivity

Use real cases and stories to put your audience in the context of your material. Introduce inspirational or well-known individuals who relate to your topic. This practical fit will make your speech interesting and the audience will be able to easily identify with what you are presenting.

Use humour sparingly

We all love a good humour that makes our life more enjoyable. Introduce funny moments and lightness in your expression through cleverly inserted jokes or comical situations. Properly dosed humor will enhance the atmosphere, dilute the tension and create an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Help yourself with interesting facts and statistics

Enrich your presentation with impressive facts, statistics or the latest trends that relate to your topic. Something unexpected and interesting will highlight the importance of your arguments. Impressive numbers and data can enhance the persuasiveness of your presentation and make an impression on your audience.

Ask thought-provoking questions

Bold and provocative questions to the audience can get them actively involved in the discussion. These questions can lay the groundwork for deeper and more interesting conversations and stimulate people to reflect on substantive issues.

By using these varied and original methods of speaking in front of an audience, your presentation will not only be useful and informative, but also memorable for your audience.

Improve your skills with our training: The art of successful presentations

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