Professor Joann Baney serves as vice president of the Professional Development Company, a communications consulting service based in New York City. As a coach to leading senior executives, Joann Baney helps high-profile professionals develop their public speaking skills.
Delivering presentations in front of an audience can be nerve-wracking for some, but an effective speech is a powerful and important tool for professionals. To improve public speaking skills at any level, consider the following tips.
1. Remember that you are having a conversation with real people. Create a stronger connection by making eye contact with audience members in turn, rather than passively scanning the crowd. Try to make connections with specific people throughout the entire speech.
2. Slow down. Many speakers make the mistake of speeding through their presentation, often losing the audience in the rush. Speak slightly slower than usual, and do not be afraid to pause and draw a deep breath occasionally.
3. Be passionate, and be genuine. When a presenter is obviously excited about a topic, the audience will notice and pay attention. For new or wary speakers, it can be beneficial to channel nervousness into excitement.