For some people, public speaking is a nerve-wracking experience. It’s not actually clear how many people are afraid of speaking in front of groups. Some statistics say that 75 percent of people have a fear of public speaking, while more recent studies say it’s actually closer to 7 percent. Even for those who don’t fear it, speaking in front of a group can be problematic. Most people report being afraid of making a mistake, forgetting what to say or experiencing technical problems.
Lucky, there are few simple tips that can make public speaking more tolerable for your employees. Pair them with some presentation giveaways and help put their fears to rest.
The saying “practice makes perfect” applies when it comes to learning how to improve public speaking skills and calming nerves. Have employees work together before a presentation, with each speaker practicing in front of the others. Make sure the group provides feedback on how fast the presenter was talking and if the message is clear. Encourage presenters to also practice at home in front of a mirror to work on body language. It will also help them determine whether the presentation is too long or too short.
Start strong, end stronger and use stories
Studies show that a speaker has roughly 20 to 30 seconds to capture an audience. Remind your employees that using a startling statistic, a great story, a joke or a visual can immediately catch the audience’s attention.
Stories are easier for an audience to remember than statistics. Encourage employees to use stories throughout the presentation to illustrate their points and make difficult-to-recall data memorable. Provide them with small giveaways to use as prizes for participation.
It’s a good idea to end a speech with a strong call to action. Make sure employees provide their contact information and are familiar with your company’s resources—like a phone number, web address and social media presence. A useful giveaway, like the Whistle Key Light, go a long way toward making sure your audience remembers your name.
Use presentation materials sparingly
While PowerPoint® can be used to display your main points, putting every part of a speech into slides can be distracting. Listeners may spend their time reading the screens instead of engaging with the presentation. And it’s important to remember that using fewer slides—or no slides—means less chance of technical problems.
Instead of slides, have employees use presentation giveaways to get their point across. For example, if you’re speaking about a construction project, you can hand out a tape measure or construction cone stress reliever to remind people of important details or dates.
Know the audience, and watch them for feedback
Before a speech, ask employees to consider their audience. The level of detail in a presentation should be based on the audience’s knowledge of the topic. Remind speakers to maintain eye contact during the speech so they can get immediate feedback. Sometimes it’s necessary to change a presentation on the fly, based on the audience’s reaction.
Offer your company’s contact information at the end of every speech and ask for feedback about the presentation. This is will help your employees improve and help you make connections with potential customers. Thank anyone who provides feedback with a long-lasting presentation giveaway, like a mini-calendar or a seed packet.
A great speech is about people
The best speeches engage audiences from the first word to the last, with stunning statistics, memorable stories and helpful visuals—including presentation giveaways. With these tips, and lots of support, your employees are sure to impress.