Contrary to popular belief, public speaking is not just for extroverts or those naturally confident in front of an audience. Many people considered “nerdy” or introverted can benefit significantly from public speaking training and practice.
There are numerous benefits to public speaking, both professionally and personally. In a professional setting, effectively communicating ideas and presenting information can increase credibility, confidence, and success in the workplace. Public speaking skills can also help with networking and job interviews, as clearly articulating your thoughts and ideas can make a positive impression on potential employers or clients.
On a personal level, public speaking can help improve self-confidence and self-esteem. It can also help with communication skills in everyday life, such as presenting ideas in meetings or expressing thoughts and feelings in a relationship.
How to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills
You now understand why public speaking is essential, so it’s time to improve your skills. It takes time to develop presentation skills, but it can be gratifying. So, how do you practice and improve your public speaking skills? Try these public speaking exercises and tips to get started:
- Join a public speaking group or club: Many communities have organizations, such as Toastmasters, that offer public speaking training and practice sessions. Joining clubs like Toastmasters International is a great way to get comfortable speaking in front of others and receive feedback on your skills.
- Practice speaking in front of a mirror: This can help you see your body language and facial expressions and can help you become more aware of any nervous habits you may have. Practice using meaningful hand gestures, and move with purpose throughout your speech. For example, express a complete thought while standing in the middle of your space. Then, proceed to one side or the other of your “stage” and express another idea.
- Record yourself: Similar to speaking in front of a mirror, recording yourself can help you see how you come across to an audience. You can watch the video back and see what works well and what areas need improvement. It’s easy to do this today with most mobile phones, and you can get an affordable stand for around $10 to $20.
- Use props and visual aids: These can help add interest and engage your audience and help you feel more comfortable and confident while speaking.
- Practice, practice, practice: The more you speak in front of others, the more comfortable and confident you will become. Feel free to put yourself out there and take opportunities to speak in front of others, even if it’s just a small group.
How to Secure a Speaking Engagement
Once you have some public speaking skills, it’s time to utilize them. A great way to practice outside clubs like Toastmasters is by securing speaking engagements. Finding speaking opportunities is not as hard as it sounds. Many events and organizations are starving for good speakers. If you’ve been practicing, you’re likely more qualified than most of your peers. Here are some tips for securing speaking engagements as a beginner:
- Start small: Wait to land a keynote speaking engagement. Start by presenting at smaller events instead, such as local meetings or conferences, and work your way up.
- Identify your niche: About what topics are you most knowledgeable and passionate? Consider speaking on these topics, as it will be easier to market yourself as an expert.
- Build your credibility: Consider writing articles, blog posts, or even a book on your topic of expertise. Establish yourself as an authority in your field, making you more attractive to potential speaking opportunities.
- Network: Attend industry events and conferences and connect with other professionals in your field. Networking can help you learn about potential speaking opportunities and get your name out there.
- Create a speaking reel or portfolio: This can help you showcase your speaking skills and experience to potential clients or event organizers.
- Use social media: Use platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to promote your speaking expertise and share your speaking experiences.
- Create a website: A website can serve as a central hub for your speaking career and can help you showcase your credentials, topic expertise, and speaking experience.
- Join a speakers bureau: A speakers bureau is an organization of speakers who talk about a particular subject. It could be an informal group, a company, or another large organization that receives payment for matching speakers with events. A speakers bureau can help you get booked for speaking engagements and provide resources and support to help you succeed in your speaking career. Many of these speaking engagements could be paid, too, as a bonus.
Following these tips can increase your chances of securing speaking engagements and establishing yourself as a professional speaker. Remember to be patient and persistent, as it may take time to build up your reputation and experience in the industry.
Get Started With Public Speaking Today
Public speaking is for more than just extroverts and confident individuals. It’s a valuable skill with numerous professional and personal benefits. Start by crafting your elevator pitch and presenting it to everyone you meet. Then, secure some speaking engagements and continue to grow in your presentation journey. With practice and these tips, anyone can improve their public speaking skills and become more confident in front of an audience.