Here are two tips you can put into practice to improve your public speaking skills: I am still on a learning journey myself so have by no means reached perfection, but i want to share some of the lessons I have learned:
1. How you practice–“Perfect Practice makes perfect.”-Vince Lombardi. How do you practice for a presentation? By just going over your material or script silently or going through your PowerPoint out loud at your computer? Your practice time will be much more effective if you practice the way you are going to give the presentation. For instance, I have been doing virtual presentations since the pandemic, so have been practicing at my computer going through my PowerPoint. I have an in-person keynote coming up, and in my practice time at first I was continuing to rehearse in front of my computer, when I should have been practicing with my Power Point presentation behind me and looking out at a fictitious audience. if you are giving a live/in-person presentation, practice like that way. Stand up, have your PowerPoint behind you, etc. Practice your opening…what will you say when you first start? Practice your closing.
2. Use Personal Stories: Personal stories keep the audience engaged, as you are revealing something about yourself. I remember giving a presentation several years ago in which I filmed myself. Later, when I watched the recording, I saw a woman sitting up front who seemed very disengaged. I watched her on the recording thinking, “Wow, was I that boring?” And then at one point during my presentation I said, “Let me share what this looks like–and to demonstrate my point, I want to tell you a story about my dog named Sherman.” She immediately raised her head and gave me direct eye contact, remaining engaged through the story and the rest of the presentation. A piece of advice: personal stories reveal more about us; however, don’t make yourself out to the be hero in every story. You already have credibility, because you are the speaker. People will feel more connected to you when you reveal the challenges you have overcome or the challenges you are still facing. By sharing your struggles, you are more relatable and real. Just make sure your story fits into your point.