Have you ever stood on stage and stared out at a thousand pair of eyes, all looking at you and expectantly waiting for you to say a word?
If you have, then you know how it is being in the spotlight. If you haven’t, then, lucky you! You may have never had to contend with stage fright or not knowing exactly what to say or how to say it.
Kidding aside, speaking to an audience – whether they’re a group of three or three million – can be a pretty nerve-wracking experience.
You might think public speakers are born naturally. Chances are, you’d be wrong. The most effortless speakers, those who dominate the stage as as a master of ceremonies or MC, give speeches that stir the soul, or uncork sparkling wit and verve every time they converse — they are the ones who’ve worked the hardest. They’ve put in the hours, and the practice. Here are a few tips for you to boost your public speaking. Remember — practice till it looks effortless.
Make that emotional connection
What do these compelling masters of the spoken word have in common?
They all know how to connect with their audience. Establishing rapport is a vital key that any public speaker will share with you. By turning your audience into allies through being open and trustworthy, they will reciprocate by giving you their full attention and cooperation.
It might seem impossible, but the reality is that you can conquer speaking in public. Knowing the power combo of skills that these captivating speakers have, as well as getting in some practice (because practice makes perfect), you too can the ability to pass public speaking with flying colors.
Here are my 4 key elements for successfully connecting with my audience:
1. Speak with sincerity
Have you ever wondered why you seem to be more drawn to speakers who seem to just “get” you? Who really talk as if they know who you are?
Most likely, these speakers are being open about themselves and are sharing with the audience their own concerns, thoughts or even fears.
By being sincere about their ideas and emotions, effective speakers can establish a sense of being relatable to their audience. When they deliver their lines with non-verbal cues (such as smiling when it’s happy news or frowning when it’s an unsettling piece of information), these speakers convey the message that they are personally affected by whatever they are delivering.
Through facial expression, tone of voice, hand gestures and other such non-verbal ways of communication, a speaker can show that he is sincere about what he is saying.
When you deliver your first few lines, remember to be sincere and emphasize that you know and care about what you say. Audiences will be turned off if they know you are only paying lip service and will most likely tune out when you’re talking.
2. Let your eyes talk
Speaking with your eyes does not necessarily mean making googly eyes or fluttering lashes (although if it helps in making an impactful delivery, why not?). When speaking in public, let your eyes meet with the audiences’ and maintain it all throughout your presentation or talk.
Seeing eye to eye is not only useful for interpersonal relationships; it is also crucial in building rapport with your audience. By looking at them, you increase engagement and create some sort of interaction.
When you want to connect with your audience:
- Try to make eye contact with each person, sweeping the auditorium from side to side, front to back.
- Do not isolate anyone from the audience.
- Pick a person and maintain eye contact for about 3.2 seconds while speaking. This will let them know that you are talking to them and are interested in knowing if they are with you on the topic or not.
3. Tell stories
When you engage your audience through storytelling, you not only grab their attention, but there is a greater probability that they will retain information.
You can capture your audience’s minds and emotions through enthralling, funny anecdotes or awe-inspiring narratives. Injecting a little personal story about yourself or your experiences can make them relate to you more.
A masterful event presenter will draw the interest of his audience through interesting tidbits of personal accounts that will make audiences react and interact.
4. Enjoin and include.
When doing public speaking, one cardinal sin is to keep on talking about yourself. If all your sentences are dotted with me, myself and I, chances are you will end up all by your lonesome.
When you are a speaker, refrain from focusing on yourself. Most likely, the event is not about you. Talk about things that will interest the audience. What is the event about? Why are you there? What is in it for the audience?
When speaking about these topics, enjoin the event participants. Usewe, us, or you when speaking to the audience. Employ the use of inclusive language so they will feel a sense of belongingness and that they are part of the event.
Doing so will make your audience more cooperative, pay more attention to what you’re saying, and become more invested in the message your event wants to convey.
Making an emotional connection with your audience can be a mutually beneficial relationship. Both parties will feel satisfied and rewarded for making social connections that have made an impact.
When you speak in public, not only do you deliver certain messages out of those cue cards. When you convey those messages in a connected, impactful way – using a sincere and passionate delivery – through personal stories and using eye contact, you also make sure that these messages do not fall through the cracks.
Through effective public speaking, you ensure that your audience doesn’t get short-changed. At the end of your speech, they will feel satisfied and fueled by the words you have successfully planted in their minds and hearts.
Hisham Wyne is an internationally recognised MC, broadcaster, presenter and moderator who help the world’s best-known brands create memorable occasions. He regularly hosts conferences, panel sessions, gala dinners and award ceremonies for some of the world’s best brands. With 150+ events under his belt, Hisham is the professional speaker that brands and agencies turn to when wanting to interview, engage and entertain government VVIPs and Hollywood celebrities.