speech tips

5 Speech Tips to Make You More Confident, Relaxed

You’ve heard it before: Most people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying. Those folks suffer from glossophobia. In this blog post, I’ll share speech tips that will help you become more confident and relaxed when called upon to speak.

Tip #1: Join Toastmasters

Toastmasters is an international organization that provides a structured program for building your speaking skills. The clubs provide a safe and supportive learning environment for you to develop your speaking and leadership skills. I promise you’ll grow, make new friends, and have fun.

How Well Do You Communicate? Get our Communication Checklist here.

Toastmaster clubs are everywhere and meet at every hour of the day or night. Find a Toastmaster club by clicking here. Toastmasters is very affordable (almost cheap). Toastmasters saved me after an extensive illnesses robbed me of my speaking skills.

Get some great speech tips from members of Piedmont Toastmasters Club in Atlanta, my club, in this video.

Tip #2: You Are in Charge

Nobody in your audience knows what your speech is about as well as you do. If you skip something, only you will know. If you say someone’s name wrong during your speech, only you will know.

When I started teaching communication classes years ago, I was sent to a class for new instructors. I thought it was a joke–boy, was I wrong. I learned a ton, but most importantly I learned this tip. No matter how nervous I get before 20 people or a few hundred or even thousands, I remind myself that I’m in charge.

Tip #3: Make Your Speech Interesting

You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian; you do have to honor that people have given up precious time to hear you speak (or present). Make your presentation interesting.

If you’re telling a story chronologically, you do not need to cover every detail. Hit the highlights.

Do tell stories and use examples. Those techniques help your audience understand your message better.

Use adjectives and adverbs to bring your stories to life.

Be wary of how you use humor. Lots of people are not good joke-tellers; lots of people won’t get your sense of humor. If you tell a joke, be prepared to explain it if no one laughs.

Tip #4: Only Use Words That Count

My first career was as a newspaper editor. It was there I learned every word counts. One of my first coaching clients was extremely wordy when he wrote. He couldn’t focus his message and get to the point.

I challenged him to consider this when he edited his own work: Consider every word costing you $1. How much money can you save by tightening up your work? Enough for a latte, a fine bottle of wine, or a trip to see the wine being made?

Tip #5: Practice, Practice, Practice

Toastmasters encourages us to speak without notes or minimal notes at best. The only way to do that is to practice your speech or presentation–several times. Time yourself. Note what words to emphasize and when to let your voice drop.

Practice in front of a mirror. Some people find that they speak faster during practice sessions than they do when actually presenting. For other folks, the opposite is true. If you’re using technology, practice your timing on when to change slides. And always have a backup for when the technology fails–and you know it will.

Bonus tip: Join Toastmasters now

These speech tips are helpful, but the only way you can get better is to practice in front of real people and get constructive feedback. At Toastmasters, you also learn from the speakers you hear and the critiques that are given.

Everyone who joins Toastmasters does so because they want to be better at public speaking. Many suffer from glossophobia, but they get up their courage and join a club that will only help them get better.

You can do it, too.

© Pamela A. Scott, 2016


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