When it comes down to oratory skills, even if you don’t have a speech impediment you may find it challenging to speak in front of a group of people. Whether it’s simply stage fright or the occasional stutter, if you’re giving a presentation at work, chances are you’ll need to brush up on some skills to become convincing and confident at the podium.
Peter Handal, the president, CEO and chairman of Dale Carnegie Training says there are four critical elements we must keep in mind in order to become an effective speaker.
1. Dress the part — In front of an audience, you automatically put yourself and your image on display. Indeed, all eyes will be on you. “Ensure that you have covered off the finer points—hair brushed, shoes cleaned, clothes ironed, nails cleaned and clipped,” says Handal. “If your appearance is impeccable you will speak confidently and appear authoritative.”
2. Own the topic — Know the subject material inside and out, backward and forward. Handal’s best advice is “…to practice, practice, practice.”
3. Keep it simple — We’ve all heard speakers drone on and on and completely miss their point. Don’t be that guy or gal. Handal says your message should be concise and easy to summarize in one sentence. “Focus on three or four main points and make sure they clearly tie back to your thesis.”
4. Consider every angle — This means to prepare yourself and your speech for potential holes before you present it. Know your audience and prepare your presentation based on that knowledge. “If you have responses ready, you will be able to quickly and efficiently dismiss critiques, looking even more knowledgeable in the process,” Handal advises. “Look at challenges to your point of view as an opportunity to show how flawless your argument really is.”
One other critical element in being an effective speaker that Mr. Handal might have added is perhaps the most simple to attain: Don’t forget to smile!
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