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10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills | Harvard Professional Development

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10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills | Harvard Professional Development
Few are immune to the fear of public speaking. Marjorie North offers 10 tips for speakers to calm the nerves and deliverable memorable orations.

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Practice and Prepare

Nervousness is normal. But don't associate these feelings with the sense that you will perform poorly or make a fool of yourself.

The best way to overcome this nervousness is to prepa...

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Know Your Audience

Your speech is about them, not you. Learn as much about your listeners as you can. This will help you determine your choice of words, level of information, organization pattern, and mot...

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Organize Your Material

And do it in the most effective manner. Write down the topic, the general purpose, specific purpose, central idea, and main points. Make sure to grab the audience’s attention in the fir...

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Watch for Feedback and Adapt to It

Keep your focus on your audience. Observe their reactions, adjust your message, and stay flexible. Delivering a canned speech will guarantee that you lose the attention of or confuse ev...

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Let Your Personality Come Through

Let Your Personality Come Through

You will establish better credibility if your personality shines through, and your audience will trust what you have to say if they can see you as a real person.

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Use Humor

Insert a funny anecdote in your presentation, and you will certainly grab your audience’s attention. Audiences generally like a personal touch in a speech. A story can provide that.

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Don’t Read

... unless you have to. Outline the main ideas just in case. Reading from a script or slide fractures the interpersonal connection. By maintaining eye contact with the audience, you ke...

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Use Your Voice and Hands Effectively

Use Your Voice and Hands Effectively

Nonverbal communication carries most of the message. Good delivery does not call attention to itself but instead conveys the speaker’s ideas clearly and without distraction. Omit nervou...

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Opening and closing

Grab attention at the beginning, and close with a dynamic end. 

When you start, use a startling statistic, an interesting anecdote, or a concise quotation. Conclude your spee...

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Use Audiovisual Aids Wisely

Too many can break the direct connection to the audience, so use them sparingly. They should enhance or clarify your content, or capture and maintain your audience’s attention.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Voice as an important tool

Your voice influences the impact of your speech and can make or break its success. 
With some guidance, you can learn to use your voice to increase your power and persuasiveness in a...

Improve Your Public Speaking Voice

  • Slow Down when you speak. Your listeners have an opportunity to absorb and reflect on what you’re saying.
  • Use Voice Exercises to strengthen your voice.
  • Record And Listen To Your Voice. Look for ways to improve your pronunciation, your delivery, and your pacing.
  • Record Phone Conversations. Replay to hear different ways that you could improve your delivery and articulation next time.
  • Focus On Pauses. The drama and power of a speech are contained in the silences that you create as you move from point to point.
  • Eat And Drink Well. Energy is essential for good speaking and voice projection. Cold water can chill your vocal chords and decrease the amount of warmth in your voice.

The Fear of Public Speaking

Public speaking is often topping the charts as the No. 1 fear in the world.

People feel anxious, sweaty, or have a pounding heart while being on stage in front of an audience.

Practice

A great way to remove a large portion of fear is to practice hard, studying the topic wellYou can research all questions that the audience may ask, and practice the speech in front of a mirror or in front of friends.

Practicing soothes our nerves, making us ready for the final audience.

Bigger Than Your Fears

Finding something bigger than your fear, greater than your anxiety, is a key strategy to get rid of the natural negative emotions.
When you talk about something you are passionate about, the words come naturally, in a flowEven if the words are forgotten, you can easily bounce back, as your inner fire won't let the words fail you.

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Madeleine Albright

"The best book, like the best speech, will do it all – make us laugh, think, cry and cheer – preferably in that or..."

Madeleine Albright

Public speaking key points

  • Acoustics are the most important part of a speech delivery . Keep your voice clear and consistent to keep you audience engaged.
  • Content is crucial. Well thought out content with good articulation is essential for a great speech.
  • The best speeches are emotional, because they are powerful. Communicate anger, sadness, love, joy or excitement, in a meaningful, authentic and impactful way.