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How to Improve Public Speaking Skills during Business Events

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Powerful Executive Communication (74-slide PowerPoint presentation). In the realm of senior management, proficient communication skills are more than just a necessity--they're your ticket to making a lasting impact. Whether it's penning down compelling narratives or presenting influential pitches, the ability to convey ideas crisply and persuasively is [read more]

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American poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Speech is power:  speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” Public speaking is an important life skill that allows you to communicate effectively with others. It gives you credibility, positioning you as an expert in your industry that  will translate to more clients, as more people will consider doing business with you. Good public speaking skills also improve your reputation and boost your self-confidence.

Understand Your Audience

One of the first things that you can do to improve your speaking skills is to identify whether the event will take place online or in-person.  Virtual events offer several advantages, such as reduced costs, accessibility and time savings. It can also reach an unlimited audience. On the other hand, in-person events offer the benefit of forging personal relationships with clients. In other words, it has the human connection. Regardless of how events are hosted, it is vital to determine who the audience is. Try to imagine why people are going to attend it. Are you going to speak to an older or younger group? Will they be local or international attendees? This is vital since you will want  to tailor your speech so that everyone can relate to it and engage.

Know What You Are Talking About 

It helps a lot, too, if you genuinely know what you are talking about. Therefore, you should know the topic very well in order to sound convincing. People should be interested in what you say because you are authoritative. Good content will not only explain the subject to your audience, but also educate them. Hence, a deep level of knowledge, if not a good understanding of the subject, will give you confidence when the floor is open to questions.

Good Content Is Tied to Delivery

Not only do you have to sound confident and knowledgeable; you must also deliver your speech in  a personal and engaging manner. Assign faces to facts in your presentation, tell stories about other people and even yourself, not only to hold your audience’s interest, but also to put you at ease. You might have the best written speech in the world, but if it is not well delivered, no one will remember or realize how great it is. Conversely, even if a speech is delivered brilliantly, a discourse that has no coherence and unity will not be effective in captivating an audience.

Speaking in front of an audience, big or small, is always a challenge. To do it effectively, ensure that you know who your listeners are, speak as an expert, and deliver your speech in a personal and pleasing manner. Doing so will improve your client base and bottom lines.

To make strides in mastering public speaking, consider seeking out TED coaching. With tailored guidance and practice, you’ll refine your skills and boost your confidence, ultimately elevating your success as a communicator.

Strategic Audience Analysis

Recognizing the format of the event—be it virtual or in-person—is merely the first step. It’s essential to delve deeper into understanding your audience. A virtual event, while cost-effective and potentially global in reach, may lack the tactile warmth of in-person interactions. In contrast, physical events foster genuine human connections and are more conducive to building enduring relationships. Consequently, tailoring your content to align with the expectations and preferences of your audience is paramount.

  • Conduct demographic analysis: Understand age groups, cultural backgrounds, and professional levels of the audience.
  • Determine the primary motivation: Are attendees looking for education, inspiration, or actionable insights?
  • Adapt your language: Local attendees may appreciate regional references, while an international audience would favor universally relatable content.

Authentic Expertise: Beyond Surface Knowledge

While surface-level familiarity with a topic might suffice for casual discussions, true public speaking excellence requires in-depth knowledge. It’s not about regurgitating facts but synthesizing them into meaningful insights. When you speak from a place of genuine understanding:

  • It establishes credibility, enhancing audience trust.
  • It enables spontaneous and insightful responses during Q&A sessions.
  • It ensures content accuracy, avoiding potential pitfalls and misinterpretations.

Content and Delivery: Two Sides of the Same Coin

While substantive content is the backbone of any presentation, its delivery determines how it resonates with the audience. Even the most groundbreaking insights can falter if presented in a monotone or unengaging manner. Conversely, impeccable delivery can’t salvage a poorly-structured or irrelevant discourse.

  • Humanize your content with anecdotes and personal stories to foster relatability.
  • Use varied vocal tones, pacing, and pauses to emphasize key points and maintain attention.
  • Employ visual aids judiciously to complement and clarify, not overshadow your spoken words.

Embracing Continuous Learning and Development

The realm of public speaking is not static—it evolves with societal shifts, technological advancements, and audience expectations. Hence, continuous learning is non-negotiable. One effective approach is to leverage platforms like TED coaching, which offers tailored guidance from seasoned professionals. Such coaching:

  • Provides constructive feedback to identify strengths and areas of improvement.
  • Exposes speakers to diverse presentation styles and techniques.
  • Facilitates practice in a supportive environment, gradually enhancing comfort and confidence.

In an era dominated by fleeting digital interactions, impactful public speaking serves as a beacon of genuine human connection and influence. Whether it’s influencing business decisions, shaping societal narratives, or inspiring change, effective communication remains at the heart of it all. Embrace the journey of continuous improvement, recognizing that each presentation, each feedback, and each learning opportunity paves the way for greater mastery and impact in the domain of public speaking.

41-slide PowerPoint presentation
This presentation sets out effective ways to deliver a presentation. The approach covers: - Word choice - Vocal delivery - Physical delivery - Personal style This is one of a series of training materials used by a global consulting firm for new hire training. It is also a supplement to our [read more]

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About Shane Avron

Shane Avron is a freelance writer, specializing in business, general management, enterprise software, and digital technologies. In addition to Flevy, Shane's articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, among other business journals.

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