How To Be A GREAT Public Speaker | 7 POWERFUL TECHNIQUES From Leeds Magician Kristian Treen
I used to be a shy, insecure introvert. Just the thought of striking up a conversation with a stranger drowned me with dread, never mind delivering a talk in front of an audience. I used to have uncontrollable sweating fits. My face would go bright red. My hands would shake and my voice would tremble.
Fast-forward to today and a lot has changed. I now generate a healthy income from public speaking. You see, as well as being a magician and running my own magic business I am also employed by one of the biggest museums in the UK. Here, I deliver at least 5 public talks every single day to audiences of up to 400 people. If you want to become a great public speaker, then the 7 techniques I have outlined below are guaranteed to help. Let's go.
1. REHERASE, REHERASE, REHERASE
My mum always used to say to me 'fail to prepare, prepare to fail'. She was 100% right. To be a great public speaker you need to know your speech inside-out. Competence creates confidence. How do you create competence? Practice. You need to practice and rehearse your speech as much as possible. The more you rehearse, the more comfortable you will feel when its time to actually deliver the speech. Practice until you no longer have to think, until the words just flow naturally. The more prepared you are the more polished your speech will sound. Practice in your head when you're on the bus.
Go over your speech whilst you walk to work or school. Say your speech out-loud when you're on the toilet! Make as much opportunity for yourself to practice as possible. Rather than spending an hour watching back-to-back episodes on Netflix use that time to refine your speech. It's also a great idea, once you've developed a flow, to practice in-front of people prior to your actual speech. Practice in front of family, friends, colleagues, whoever. If there's nobody around, video call someone. You owe it to yourself to do as much as you possibly can in order to deliver a knockout public talk.
2. DO MORE PUBLIC SPEAKING
To become great at anything you need to do more of it. Moreover, to become great at anything you need to risk not being able to do it well. Perfectionism holds a lot of people back. Stop trying to be perfect. Show up, as you are, and just start. If you want to become a great public speaker, you need to do more public speaking. It's that simple.
Now if public speaking doesn't come easy to you, don't worry. Public speaking never came naturally to me either! You just need to be prepared to put in the effort. In one of my previous blog posts 5 Ways To Get Whatever You Want In 2020 I discussed what it actually means to work hard. Go take a look at that post to see what I wrote as it will definitely help you with public speaking. Seize every opportunity to hone your craft. As you expose yourself to more and more speaking opportunities, you will learn so many small nuances that will elevate you from good to great.
3. BECOME MORE SOCIAL
This one was HUGE for me. It's very difficult to go from shy and introverted to a gregarious extrovert who thrives in front of an audience.
But it can be done.
One of the best things you can do to become a great public speaker, for me, is to become a more sociable person. Get comfortable interacting with people, whether that be one-one-one or in groups. All the little nuances and social graces that you pick up during these smaller interactions will only serve to benefit you in your public speaking. Becoming a great public speaker is a process.
By becoming more social, by having more conversations on a daily basis then, gradually, you will begin to see improvements. If you are socially anxious, I've been there myself. You just need to take control of your anxiety and get out of your comfort zone. Strike up conversations with strangers. Ask someone for directions, whatever. The key is that you are consistently making the effort to improve your social abilities.
4. POWER OF THE PAUSE
Okay, so about some practical advice for when you're actually speaking. When public speaking there is a tendency to rush, especially when you're first starting out. I used to fly through my speech because I just wanted it to be over with as soon as possible. This is okay when you're first delving into the realms of public speaking. However, if you want to become a great public speaker, then you need to slow down and master the power of the pause.
So many people underappreciate the power of slowing down and using pauses to take your speech from mediocre to magnetic. This is something I've really been discovering over the past couple of months. Rather than just saying a sentence and being done with it, have a play around. Look at your speech and have a think where you could place the emphasis. Take this example sentence:
'This painting is 100 years old'.
This is a great piece of information but delivering it in a hurried or swift way loses the opportunity for maximum impact.
Instead, you could say:
'This painting (pause) is 100 years old'
You will notice a completely different response from your audience. It's exactly the same sentence with exactly the same words. But by utilising the power of the pause you are able to communicate its contents far more powerfully. You could even pause slightly between the final three words to create an even stronger piece of speech.
When we take time with our speech, we appear in control. This is what separates a good speaker from a great speaker. A great speaker will be constantly seeking ways to enhance their delivery and using pauses to emphasise what is being said. Take your time.
5. MAKE THEM LAUGH
Never underestimate the power of humour. I am in no way saying you need to become a stand-up comedian (unless that's your thing then this piece of advice should definitely be your priority!) Humour is an amazing way of relaxing both you and your audience. People love to laugh. It's an amazing emotional relief.
So why not make your audience laugh? Adding a little humour throughout your speech keeps everything fresh and stops people drifting off and getting bored. But Kristian, I'm not funny, I hear some of you say. In my opinion, ANYBODY can be funny. It's all about knowing who you are and what sort of humour does and doesn't work for you. If you need inspiration, then watch videos of the best comedians and look for material that you can adapt to fit your personality.
Of course, know your audience and know your topic. If you are preparing to give a speech on a very serious topic to very serious people then perhaps humour won't be appropriate. But, in most cases, your audience will love and remember you for making them laugh because it shows you appreciate their needs and care about their experience.
6. BODY LANGUAGE
This one is MASSIVE. Your external communicates your internal. However you feel on the inside is projected into how you carry yourself on the outside. Great public speakers have great body language. What does it mean to have great body language I hear you ask? Don't slouch. Don't fidget. Make eye contact with your audience rather than looking down at the dirt on your shoes (please remember to clean your shoes). Great body language is about orientating your body in a way that exudes confidence. Body language, however, is not a one-size-fits-all. Of course, there are principles, like the ones listed, that should be followed. However, the way you carry yourself has a lot to do with the formality of the setting and the reason for your speech.
Take former U.S President Barack Obama for example. If you look at videos when he's delivering an important speech, his body language is extremely deliberate. There are no sudden movements. There is no fidgeting. He moves slowly. His body language communicates control and this control communicates confidence.
If we take someone else like the British comedian Michael Macintyre, his body language is completely different to Obama's yet it still communicates a sense of control and he uses it expertly to compliment his comedic character. When relaying comical anecdotes, Macintyre frequently nods his head. On a psychological level, this frequent head nodding puts you on his side. It's as if he's brainwashing you into agreeing with what he's saying. Take a look at both of these guys doing their thing and notice what makes each one so effective.
There are countless ways you can use your body language to compliment your speech. Have a play around and see what works the best for you.
7. ENJOY IT
Yeah public speaking can be super scary. It can feel like something you'll never be able to get good at, never mind great at. But, take it from me, you can become a great public speaker. Yeah it's daunting, but, for me, that's what makes it so good to do. Public speaking, for me, is one of the most fulfilling things you can do. It teaches you to be courageous, to show up, as you are, and do the best with what you have. There's something truly liberating about being able to stand in front of an audience and, despite all of your fears, doubts and insecurities, deliver an incredible speech. Do it, enjoy it and learn from it and I promise you, with time and persistence, you will become a great public speaker.
So there you have it. These are my 7 most powerful tips to becoming a great public speaker. If ANY of these have been useful to you, then do let me know in the comments and se sure to give this post a like by tapping on the heart icon so I can get a feel for what posts are the most popular and give you more of those. Thank you so much for taking the time to read through this post and I will see you in the next one which will be available on Tuesday.