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How to speak effectively in front of a group

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Boost the power of your public chit chat by taking on board a few of these practical tips

Not many like it. Many fear it, but sometimes you’ve just got to do it.

Everyone has their own tactics when it comes to talking in front of a group, but these may help to ease your pain.

  • Know they’re on your side. A good thing to remember when you’re due to speak in public is that the group are willing you to do well. They’re silently routing for you even before you’ve begun. No one wants to see someone crash and burn, so remember – they’re not against you, they’re on your side.
  • Admit you’re nervous. Making light of the situation and being honest about how you’re feeling can take some of the pressure off. If you’re feeling nervous – let people know saying something like, “Well I feel a bit out of my depth here but I’m going to plough on ..” or “I’m not really used to speaking in public so please be kind to me.” It might get a few laughs too.
  • Get the audience involved. Listening to someone speak for a long length of time can be tiring, so keep your audience engaged by asking them to do some of the work for you. Set them fifteen minutes to come up with some answers to a question or solutions to a problem. This could help to take the focus off you and will give you chance to catch your breath.  
  • Have a laugh. Laughter can be massively useful. It’ll make you feel more in control and people will be bound to listen more attentively afterwards. You don’t have to tell jokes – anecdotes can be great, but keep them short.
  • Use slides to illustrate. There’s nothing more dull than listening to someone read something that you can already read yourself. It can be distracting too, trying to read and listen at the same time. If you have powerpoint slides use them for figures, graphs or illustrations, and jot down a few notes for yourself that you can expand on without having to write down everything you’re going to say.
  • Look up. This doesn’t mean you have to look people in the eye, but look at them as a group. This will encourage them to pay attention and prevent them from zoning out.
  • End with fireworks. Your final round up is your chance to deliver a memorable wallop. Think rousing. Think gut-felt. Think about it all being over, now time to relax.
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