Public speaking is a skill that almost everyone needs to use in their real life and in their career. At some point, you’ll be toasting a wedding or giving an important presentation.
Counselors, in particular, have a vested interest in honing their public speaking skills, but there aren’t a ton of continuing education courses that focus on this traditionally “soft” skill. Fortunately, there are concrete practices that can help make anyone a more confident and competent public speaker.
Below are some do’s and don’ts of public speaking that can help even a novice speaker control a crowd, along with tips and tricks to take your presentations to the next level.
Do’s and Don’ts of Public Speaking
Keep your hands by your side, relaxed.
DO NOT gesticulate unless you are emphasizing a specific point.
Plant your feet firmly on the ground.
DO NOT swing or change position.
Vary your cadence and rhythm to create a dynamic and exciting vocal style.
DO NOT look at the ground.
Look your audience in the eye and connect with them.
REMEMBER to breathe!
Tips and tricks
Practice in front of a mirror.
Memorize what you want to say, if possible, but if you get it wrong, don’t worry. No one can tell except you. A presentation or speech that you are comfortable with will give you the freedom to improvise and grow.
When you connect to something personal in your speech, let the audience see you thinking looking up rather than down at your feet. This way the audience can see your eyes.
Stillness and silence may seem strange to the presenter, but seem powerful enough to an audience when used correctly.
If things go wrong, don’t panic. Acknowledge whatever happened to derail the presentation – preferably with humor – and stay calm. One thing to remember is that no one wants you to fail. If people are watching someone speak, they don’t want to be bored or indifferent. They want to hear something life changing, big and powerful. They want you to wow them. In the end, they are on your side.
Finally, it is important to see how you react to other public speakers. What were the best presentations or speeches you have attended? What was the speaker doing and why did it work for you?
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