Types of Public Speaking Skills and How To Improve Them
Most job roles and industries require public speaking skills to communicate and engage with team members and audiences confidently. Strong public speaking skills increase your chances of getting hired for a new job and becoming a more effective employee at the workplace. Thankfully, you can improve these skills through practice. In fact, public speaking is one of the top communication skills employers look for in a potential candidate.
In this article, we will explain what public speaking skills are, their types, how to improve your public speaking and how to highlight these skills during the hiring process.
What are public speaking skills?
Public speaking skills are soft skills that showcase how well you can speak and engage your listeners. Influential public speakers have the power to persuade, inform and educate others. It helps you sway opinions, motivate others and become a natural leader. Mastery of this skill can help you advance your career, increase confidence, improve leadership skills, develop vocabulary and ensure personal development.
Top 6 public speaking skills
Here are the top six public speaking skills to master:
Being able to communicate an idea or thought clearly is an essential skill for public speaking. In order to become an effective communicator, you need to master various elements of communication. You require excellent diction to ensure that the audience understands every word you say. Another critical element of communication is the ability to control your voice and speed of talking. If you talk too softly or loudly, the audience may fail to understand your point. Similarly, if you speak too slow or too fast, the audience may lose interest in what you have to say.
Excellent public speakers are experts at adjusting their speech patterns based on the audience's level of expertise. For example, when speaking at a technology conference, you should convey the technical concepts in such a way that even the most non-technical person can understand them.
Related: How To Improve Communication Skills
Good public speakers pronounce words clearly and use proper grammar while avoiding verbal crutches like “um” and “ah”. Verbal crutches can distract the audience from what the speaker is actually trying to say. Public speakers with clear articulation lend more clarity to their thoughts because they have excellent command over the language, use appropriate words and have a rich vocabulary. Apart from reducing verbosity, clear articulation gives you the confidence to speak at small and large meetings.
Even the most tedious and technical topic becomes interesting when you present it the right way. This requires superior presentation skills. However, good presentation skill is not limited to creating eye-catching and interesting slides. It also includes facial expression, vocal tone and body language. Using the right presentation style, you can make boring topics engaging and interesting. To make your presentation memorable and capture the audience's attention, start your presentation by introducing yourself or sharing a few industry statistics. Use a joke or story to inject some humour in your speech. Your presentation style should have the power to engage the audience.
Another essential skill of a public speaker is confidence. Often, even good communicators who feel comfortable addressing a small audience may lose confidence when talking to a large audience. Problems like nervousness and stage fright may disappear when you are confident about your skills. Employers often prefer confident speakers because they are more likely to share information in a meaningful and authoritative manner. Your level of confidence impacts how you portray and carry yourself when talking to an audience.
Communication becomes easier when you are passionate about the topic of your speech. Without passion, your communication can fail to educate and inform others. Exuding a level of expertise in your speech delivery is essential to create a connection with your audience. When delivering a speech on a topic that does not excite you, dig deep into the topic and try to find things that might interest you. This helps you address the gathering with authenticity and makes you look like an expert.
Ability to connect with the audience
When delivering a seminar or addressing an issue during a meeting, you must connect with your audience. For creating a connection, assess your audience's needs. For instance, some people are comfortable with technical terms while others are not. Some prefer a light-hearted conversation, including jokes and humour, while others may prefer a professional conversation. Excellent public speakers create an atmosphere that engages and excites the listeners.
How to improve your public speaking skills
Here are the top six ways to improve your public speaking skills and use them to advance your career:
1. Practise speaking
The more you speak with others, the more comfortable you become in addressing large gatherings. You can practise your speaking skills by enrolling in a public speaking class. Also, plan what you have to say in advance and read it aloud again and again. Start by reading the speech to yourself. Then read it in front of your family members or colleagues and ask for their honest feedback. Make a video recording of your rehearsal so that you can evaluate your speaking skills and spot any areas of improvement.
2. Focus on your body language
Body language is a nonverbal communication skill that supports your public speaking skills. When moving on the stage, always keep your shoulder and spine straight and have a gentle smile on your face. Avoid standing behind desks, tables or chairs when talking to the audience. Use gestures to emphasise a point and move to different areas of the stage according to the flow of your presentation. Your facial expression must match the overall energy and tone of your speech.
3. Work on the tone of your voice
During presentations, your audience can lose interest if you use a monotone voice. You should practise various voice modulations and try different pitches to draw the audience. Listen to famous public speakers and understand how they use the tone of their voice to make their presentations engaging.
4. Practise diaphragmatic breathing
Often, first-time public speakers may suffer from speech anxiety, which results in nervousness and stage fear. To avoid speech anxiety, practise diaphragmatic breathing as it helps reduce anxiety and allows better control over your voice, volume and pitch.
5. Make eye contact with your audience
Being able to engage your audience while delivering a speech is an essential quality of a public speaker. To improve this, ensure you make eye contact with them. Practise eye contact in your home or office when you talk to your friends or colleagues.
6. Be self-assured
Audiences easily connect with speakers who look confident. When you are self-assured and confident of your skills, you successfully create an emotional connection that helps in delivering the right idea or message.
How to highlight your public speaking skills
In your workplace, there are a variety of situations where you may apply your public speaking skills. For instance, you can use your skills when introducing yourself in a corporate meeting, making sale pitches and giving presentations. Employers look for candidates with excellent public speaking skills. If you possess these skills, showcase them on your CV and during the interview. Here are two ways to highlight your public speaking skills:
1. In your CV
Highlight your public speaking experience in the employment history section. Based on the job description, pick up skill words to establish your credentials as a potential candidate. When you use such skill words, your CV becomes ATS-compliant, increasing your chances of qualifying for the next round. You can even list these words in the skills section of your CV.
When including these skills in your CV, use the following as an inspiration:
Conducted public workshops for 500+ attendees
Presented technical paper in many international conferences and corporate meetings
Presented speech about the company and its products
Trained over 150 corporate trainers through online seminars and classes
Worked and collaborated with other employees from different departments to improve the sales pitch
Delivered engaging sales pitches to receive client business
Mentored and coached mid-level managers on leadership and negotiation skills
2. In your interview
The interview is a great place to showcase your public speaking skills. While you may encounter direct questions related to this skill set, often employers judge these skills based on how comfortably you speak and communicate your answers. When answering an interview question, pause and think before you speak, know when to stop talking and avoid rambling. This makes you come across as a good candidate for the job. Prepare before for your interview and practise the questions you are likely to face.
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