Anyone who knows me knows that I am very outgoing and enjoy talking to anyone. The same goes for my 3 year old daughter. She is very good at going up to anyone and starting a conversation. In fact, I have had to recently teach her about stranger danger because we were at the local park and she was just talking to anyone and everyone and let’s be real, there were some shady characters there that I would’ve preferred she not talk to! I digress…on Tuesday I had the honor to judge a high school public speaking contest. I was really impressed with how these students did and wanted to share 5 tips for those who are looking to do public speaking, or have a fear of talking to others, so that we can all talk to each other more freely and comfortably! This post was inspired by the students who had the courage to get up on that big stage and talk for three minutes about a subject they just learned about literally five minutes prior. Not easy! Want to know who won the contest? Check out the link at the end of this post!
5 Tips to Speak to Anyone
- Speak Up! If you are a quiet person, you need to project your voice so that either the last row of the audience can hear you, or so the person you are talking to can hear every word you are saying. I am not talking about screaming, but just ensuring you keep your head up (chin off chest) and use your stomach to push the sound out. Singers know how to do this quite well!
- Eye Contact is Important – If you are on a stage, make eye contact with different people in the audience. Don’t just look up at the sound boards on the wall because then it looks like you aren’t interested in engaging your audience. Same with one-on-one conversation. Eye contact takes practice, but once you learn how to do this, you’ll realize that it is harder for the other person to actually KEEP eye contact with you than it is for you to do to them.
- Remember About Your Hands and Feet – This is especially important on stage, but not so much during a one-on-one conversation. But you don’t want to sway around like you are rocking a baby to sleep, but you also don’t want to stand there with your hands in your pocket. My advice is to pretend that you are always holding scarfs and time to time, throw one gently into the air. That gets your hands moving in a conversational manner, but not too much as the scarfs come back down slowly. Same with your feet. You don’t want to be doing a dance on stage but if you take a couple steps one way, stop, talk a bit more, and then slowly walk back again, you are making the stage your own place and taking control!
- Just Breathe! Unless you are asking someone out on a date! Just kidding!! Remembering to breathe ensures that you take natural pauses, and that you aren’t talking so fast no one can understand a word you are saying. If you are nervous, take a deep breath as soon as you are on your place on stage or before you walk up to someone to talk to them. Give your brain that extra oxygen it desires to help you through this task!
- Don’t Go Off Topic – Again, this is especially important for if you are on a stage, but remember what you are there to talk about. Don’t go off on a tangent and lose your audience since they were obviously first interested in what you were originally going to talk about. When having a one-on-one conversation, remember to ask questions to the other person to help move you from topic to topic. Don’t be like those girls from Clueless and be chatty Kathy’s!
I hope that whatever your situation is, whether you have to stand on a stage or are just trying to talk to someone new, that these tips really help you. What I can promise you is that it gets easier with practice and soon enough you’ll be reminding yourself about stranger danger!
And if you were interested, here is a short article about the speech contest I was at. Great job to ALL of the students!