Unless you work in a cave banging sticks together, odds are, part of your job involves talking to other people. Heck, you might even need to run a meeting or two. Those of us who are really lucky get to do "public speaking", which has been known to produce sweating and weak knees in certain people. To combat this, and to work on other communication and leadership skills, I joined Toastmasters about a year ago. It has been an invaluable experience. Here are the top five public speaking tips that beginners can start applying immediately. They are simple, obvious, easy to remember, and practical.
1. Lose the notes (do I really need to say this?)
It may seem obvious, but your dependence on your speaking notes is dragging you down. Having to refer to notes about what you are going to say decreases your credibility, prevents you from making eye contact with your audience, and limits your charisma and body language. Remember, you are speaking because you are the expert. Know the topic, know what you are going to say, and say it. The only exception to this rule is if you are reporting on specific facts and numbers.
2. Lose the crutch words (“uhm”, "uh", "like", "you know")
“Uhm”, and other crutch words, are verbal garbage. They serve absolutely no purpose other than to make you sound dumb. Prevent these crutch words from exiting your mouth and you’ll start sounding smarter immediately. The smarter you sound, the more people will pay attention to what you have to say. If you're unsure about what to say, be silent, collect your thoughts, breath, and continue. It might take practice but it is well worth it.
3. Speak louder
The more power you give to your voice, the more authority you will have, the clearer your words will be, and the easier you will be to understand – all of which combine to make you more engaging and memorable.