What are the 5 most important skills in public speaking?

What are the 5 most important skills in public speaking?

Great public speakers are in high demand so having public speaking skills is a big plus on your resume, opening up doors to bigger job offers and more income. Why? Because speaking to groups is a given across multiple industries both internally and externally to promote a company, inspire and motivate and get your brand and ideas heard through:

  • Professional presentations
  • Training events
  • Presenting findings
  • Motivational speaking
  • Pitching proposals
  • Leading meetings
  • Company announcements 
  • Awards and dedication ceremonies
  • Promotions and marketing launches

Presentations cover all room sizes, from speaking to a small number of internal staff right through to a packed international conference of thousands. No matter how many people you are addressing, the skills needed to perfect your presentation and have influence over what choices your audience makes next, are the same.

The problem is, most people suck at public speaking and avoid it at all costs. Those who are thrust into it unwillingly usually perform badly, don’t make a connection and fail to be engaging and motivating, which only reinforces just how much they hate it.

Here’s the secret though. Anyone can be an amazing public speaker with the right training. It’s not a certain personality type that’s great at it or naturally excels at it, it’s about how you perceive yourself and also how you connect with your audience.

When you have the tools needed to address groups dynamically with impact and influence, you become highly valued by employers and find yourself able to access new opportunities in leadership and management roles. What’s more, it will show in your interview and how you present yourself, because recruitment and position interviews are a public speaking arm of their own as well.

When you take the stage in our Influence Now course, arguably the best public speaker training in Sydney, we focus on securing a deep, internal knowledge of who you are and what you have to offer. This creates an incredible confidence to stand up in front of anyone, and talk about just about anything because, at your core, you are unshakable.

I’ve had an incredible situation where I was presenting and the stage actually collapsed, as in it literally crumbled while I was talking and sank to the ground. I didn’t flinch, I just kept going with what I was doing, which happened to be a guided meditation of all things, and I worked that crumbling stage into my presentation, “Your internal walls are tumbling down and breaking apart, you might even be able to hear that process as it happens…’, guess what, no one opened their eyes or gave it a second thought, they continued as normal, because I was so concrete on what I was doing and didn’t let this crazy situation hijack my event.

There are plenty of different things you can bring into your presentation to make it stand out and be impactful. We’ve covered five of the most important skills here.

The Five Most Important Skills In Public Speaking

  • Articulation

The most important thing about presenting to any sized group is the ability for people to understand what you’re saying, even if they are sitting at the back.

Some key skills here are:

  • Speaking clearly
  • Speaking loudly
  • Correct grammar 
  • No “ums” “errs” or long thinking pauses within sentences

It all really comes back to confidence and a mindset about what you want to achieve – rather than thinking about what you don’t want to achieve. When you have your confidence nailed and a growth mindset you will be able to control performance anxiety and overcome the mumbling, muttering and overthinking that comes with stage fright.

I strongly recommend not scripting your presentation. Too much structure around notes or concentrating on remembering your lines correctly can lead to long pauses, repeating yourself and stumbling over your words. 

You should know enough about your subject to speak on it with confidence. Having an outline of your beginning, middle and end and important facts to cover should give you enough structure without distracting you from connecting with your audience, answering their direct questions and making your presentation memorable.

Use your routine to estimate how long to spend talking about each section to be relevant and informative without running over (or under) time.

  • Engagement

In order to win over your audience you need to engage with them, that goes well behind facts and saying the right thing. Most of our communication is non-verbal. You need to use vocal tone, facial expression, body language, and timing to your advantage to carry the meaning of your words over to be more powerful, memorable and have genuine meaning to your audience. 

The idea isn’t just to educate them, but to motivate them to make a change in some way.

  • Maintain eye contact 
  • Be energetic
  • Get animated 
  • Have physical presence
  • Change vocal tone to emphasise important points
  • Move to a preset point on stage when you change to a new idea or introduce a solution

Obviously, this links back to steady confidence and certainly in who you are and what you have to offer as a presenter.

  • Catering to Audience Needs

Look at who your audience is. Some audiences desire a lot of technical detail while others are happy with personal anecdotes. Some will enjoy humour but the same jokes won’t hit the mark in some crowds as well as others. You need to know what problems your audience are facing and what solutions they are looking for and draft a talk that adapts to who they are and what they will respond to. 

It’s not uncommon to plan for a certain talk and find yourself facing a completely different audience on the day. If your plan for your original audience is falling flat you’ll know about it early. Change style, be flexible and get your audience involved by asking questions and opening discussion to get back on track to what this particular audience needs.

This is all about what they can get from it, so make that your number one priority, what you can give. When you put their needs before you, you can chunk up to a higher purpose which can overcome anxiety and overwhelm.

  • PowerPoint Skills

I use slides in my Live It Now presentations because I cover a lot of new ground in a very short course (it’s only two days!). Slides and visuals are important in this situation because the topics about mindset and taking control of your emotions and outcomes is pretty huge, and most people have no idea about how to harness their inner potential and get their mind working for them, not against them. 

I want to be able to appeal to and connect with people who have visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning preferences by catering to all these needs across the two days, and slides are one really great way to do that. I don’t have many words on my slides, they’re heavy on illustrations as well as putting some of the questions I’m asking in writing, which can help people get to the heart of what I am saying and understand the question clearly.

I don’t run the slides myself and I’d really recommend that you don’t either, because you want your focus to be on your people. Just pressing a button is all good if it works, but if a slide skips ahead or freezes up you have to stop what you are doing and put all your energy into getting that back on track before you can get started again, which really doesn’t work. When you have someone dedicated to watching the slides progress and hitting the buttons for you you can move at the pace you need for your audience, clarify points as you go and maintain a conversation while things get fixed for you if you run into any issues.

  • Composition 

Storytelling is really important. People want to be able to put themselves into what you are saying, that’s where the real impact comes from, not in what you say, but in how they feel about it. This comes in how you construct and compose your content.

Look at the biggest problem/pain points and highlight and address these. In my training courses, I teach how important metaphors are and how you can use these to create heartfelt analogies that people connect to and create emotion.

Humour can help as well but only if you use it at the right time with the right people. It’s important not to confuse public speaking with a stage performance. You need to have a balance between quality content and personal presence. If you don’t have the composition balanced with helpful information beginning, middle and end, you probably won’t offer much value, no matter how well you deliver it.

A public speaking class or workshop can go a long way in showing you how to develop the tools and skills you need to perform well in any public speaking situation. We go even further than just covering the important skills you need, at Your Future Now we work on helping you discover your purpose, inner worth and unique talents that give you unshakable confidence to reach your goals and feel perfectly comfortable outside your comfort zone.

As well as professional and accomplished face to face teachers you’ll also form lifelong friendships with your classmates through our participation heavy training modules and open and supportive atmosphere.

If you would like help improving your public speaking skills, my free book ‘Scared of Public Speaking?’ will help you overcome your fears and take the stage with confidence! Just enter your details below, and I’ll deliver it straight to your inbox.

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