Written by Anne Elorriaga account executive for the PRSA PDX account team
According to The Washington Post’s article “America’s top fears: Public speaking, heights and bugs”, the number one fear in America is the fear of public speaking or glossophobia. However, public speaking is a task that the public relations profession requires all the time. Public relations professionals need to present to clients, work with coworkers and feel comfortable communicating our ideas in front of more than one person. The following five tips will help you become the powerful public speaker that you have the potential to be.
- Practice without notes: To be a strong public speaker, you need know what you want to communicate to your audience. Do your research and lay out an outline of the most important points of your presentation. After you know what you want to say, run through the presentation by saying it aloud in front of a mirror with your outline or notes. Then, run through the presentation without any help from the outline or notes. After, review your notes to make sure you covered all the important concepts. This will allow you to see what you remembered and help you build a more conversational tone during your presentation.
- Prepare with a power stance: Power stances sound like a weight training technique, but they actually help public speakers present with less nerves. Standing upright with a shoulder width stance, slightly leaning forward with one hand on your hip prior to presenting helps decrease pre-presentation nerves and reduces your body’s stress levels. Use the power stance posture before your presentation to walk in with killer confidence.
- Make eye contact with the audience: An effective presentation connects with its audience. Beyond presenting interesting information, eye contact connects your audience to what you are saying. Make eye contact with audience members like you would during a casual conversation. Move your glance throughout the audience to make sure every audience member feels included in your presentation. People feel inclined to listen if you are looking at them.
- Smile: Smiling affects your ability to present by reducing stress levels and increasing happy sentiments. Also, smiling at your audience during your presentation encourages them to smile as well. The audience will be more likely to respond and engage to your presentation if they feel as though you are inviting and welcoming.
- Move during your presentation: Another way to build rapport with your audience is to ensure they feel individually included. Moving within a presentation space makes your presentation more visually engaging for the audience members and helps them feel engaged. It also helps you as the speaker to become more relaxed. However, make sure your moves are intentional. Point out to important concepts by counting them out with your fingers, match your facial expressions with your content and move throughout the space with the appropriate pace and stance.
Anne Elorriaga is a junior at the University of Oregon studying public relations and journalism. She was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and outside of her academics she enjoys playing volleyball and trying new brunch spots. After she graduates, she hopes to work in the food and beverage public relations industry and acquire a law degree.