Whether it is a group of 50 or 500, the question is still the same: Can you be an effective public speaker?
The answer is yes if you keep on mind some key points when it comes to communicating with your audience.
– First of all, prepare as much as you can because you can’t under-prepare for anything.
However, for your sake (and everyone else’s), a lead-time of about 2 to 3 days should be enough for a 20 minute presentation (this includes rehearsal time and putting together decent visual aids, when applicable).
– Get to know your audience.
Are they mostly children or young adults? Company executives or day laborers? Is it comprised mostly of men or women? Asking salient questions about your audience gives you ideas on how to tailor your message to them specifically so they can better relate to the topic.
– People remember 20% of what they hear, 30% what they see, and 50% of an audio-visual presentation.
That said, as much as your topic and venue can afford you, incorporate visuals in your talk. It doesn’t have to be a PowerPoint presentation or an overhead projector all the time. Sometimes, a well laid out chart to serve as a visual guide to the presentation will do wonders because the audience can see where you’re going with the talk.
– Get participation.
When people participate in an activity, their retention rate jumps to as high as 80 to 90 percent depending on the activity. Ask a member of the audience to come up to participate in an example you’re illustrating or ask them to repeat the salient points. The latter alone adds about 40 percentage points.
Now, on to you the speaker.
– Feeling nervous is fine and to an extent a good thing.
It shows you want to perform well but you must harness this energy and put it into your preparation and put excitement into your delivery. You’ll find that as you become more adept in controlling your nerves, you’re able to take on more advanced techniques that will help your public speaking skills.
Even before you step up to the podium, imagine yourself speaking to the audience and being great at it. A technique commonly used in performance athletes, this approach has yielded positive results.
– Finally, learn to enjoy the experience and not dread it.
This point alone improves your skills by a 100% which is great not just for you, but for your audience as well.