Chances are your favorite motivational speaker that is always full of energy and keeps the audience involved has made a bigger impact on you than that professor that never did anything but monotonously read a PowerPoint word for word.
Simple changes to the way you deliver your speech can make all the difference. Here are seven of my favorite tips for increasing your likability on stage!
Embrace Being Present
You are the focal point in the room during your speech, and it’s important to embrace being present during your opportunity to shine on stage. Practicing breathing techniques, pacing, and other elements of effective speaking can help you make the most of every moment.
I used to feel like I needed to rush to get my next sentence out as if I were having a conversation and needed to make sure that someone else didn’t cut in before I finished my thought.
Instead, know when to pause to take a fresh breath, allow the audience to ponder the point you just made, or take a sip of water. Own your speech by making every moment count.
Research Your Audience and Other Speakers
Knowing your audience is a crucial element of delivering an effective speech. While part of being an effective speaker is developing your personal voice, it is also important to research your audience beforehand and tailor the character of your speech accordingly. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they hope to get out of your speech.
If you are attending a large event that has multiple guest speakers, it can be helpful to know who the other speakers are and why they were selected in advance. Arriving early enough to meet the other speakers before the event can give you a feel for their personalities, qualifications, and speech topics, which can help you work brief references to them into your own speech.
Involve the Audience
Your audience came to your event because they want to hear about why what you have to say applies to them. For this reason, effective speakers go the extra mile to make every audience member feel important.
Opening your speech by asking questions that relate to your topic and having audience members raise their hands if an answer applies to them allows the audience to contribute to the experience, and the answers can also give you an idea of which specific points within your speech are likely to resonate with your audience.
Creating a hashtag that relates to your speech can extend your reach to social media, and having audience members share their thoughts with the person next to them can help to break up a long speech.
Make Eye Contact With Your Audience
I used to deliver speeches as though I was talking to a wall. I felt as though my notes were the most important thing in the room, and making sure I hit every point took precedence over glancing around the room.
However, making eye contact is an essential skill because it conveys confidence and makes your audience feel important.
Break Character With Humor
Humor can be an effective tool in any speaker’s toolbox. Sharing an embarrassing story can show your audience that you are a relatable human being that is just as capable of making mistakes as they are, but you don’t let mistakes define your success.
Cracking a joke can also help to retain your audience’s attention and boost their interest in your topic, but it is important to do so with caution.
Jokes that paint your cause or organization in a negative light or involve controversial or other serious topics are unlikely to be well received by your audience.
Use Your Nerves to Speak From Your Heart
Your audience doesn’t expect you to never be nervous on stage, but they do want to know that you care deeply about the topic you are speaking about. I have found that minor nerves often produce the extra burst of adrenaline I need to deliver my most passionate speeches.
Nerves come from our desire to please our audience and convince them that what we have to say matters, which I believe is a good thing.
Body Language is Everything
How you present yourself on stage says a lot about you as a person, your feelings about the topic you are speaking about, and the cause or other organization you are partnering with.
Capture your audience’s attention from your first step on stage by walking with purpose and good posture, and smiling, waving, and making eye contact from the beginning shows your audience that listening to you will be worth their time.
It can also be a good idea to watch videos of your previous speeches to see if you have any habits that may distract your audience. Some common mistakes to look for include:
- Never looking up from your notes
- Never using gestures
- Staying in one place if moving around the stage would match the context of your speech better
- Using filler words, such as “um” or “like”
Body language is a skill that can be practiced and perfected once you are aware of areas that could be improved. I am far from the most confident person in the world, but you would never know that from watching me speak!
Likable speakers know that there is more to an effective speech than the words that come out of their mouths. Learning how to create a powerful presence on stage can increase any speaker’s relatability, confidence, and likability, which can boost the overall impact of their speeches.
For more tips and to see how you can grow your speaking platform with more paid consistency, schedule a 30-minute strategy session with me (Bryan).