The best public speakers seem to be able to spontaneously stand up, speak eloquently, and charm any audience.
Their secret? It’s not spontaneous; it’s planned and practiced—so much so that it’s internalized and seems natural.
To become a good public speaker, you have to:
- prepare & practice,
- set up content so that it is audience-friendly, and
- use visual support.
I present to a lot of different groups—students & faculty on campuses, professionals & scholars in conference rooms. One common comment I get after I speak in front of all those different audiences in various venues is, “You’re a good public speaker.” This should be the common thread in all your public speaking, too–whether a classroom presentation, a board room presentation, or an interview.
Content is important, of course, but you can’t convey excellent content if you’re not polished, if you don’t walk your audience through the content you’re presenting, and if you don’t provide any visual support.
Here is just one example…
In interviews you have to:
1- Prepare and practice for all the commonly-asked interview question. To see the benefits of being prepared and practicing, see this series of “before” and “after” answers to interview questions on my YouTube channel. Spontaneous answers to questions you were not expecting (“before”) are never as good as prepared, practiced answers (“after”).
If you aren’t prepared, you ramble for too long, you talk too much about yourself (and not enough about the employer and the job), and you fail to lay out the specific examples from your experience that match the qualifications & experience they employer is looking for.
In any context, your power as a presenter comes from being prepared and practiced.
2- Set up content so that it is audience-friendly. You have to provide seamless content that identifies a need the employer has, asserts that you meet that need, and proves it with a specific example. That is audience-friendly content in the context of a job interview–it walks the interviewer through the story of your fit for their needs.
In any context, you always have to walk your audience through the presentation so that you provide information that they need and can use.
3- Provide visual support. In the case of interviews, visual support means gesturing gently to support what you’re saying, smiling warmly, and making eye contact. Avoid being distracting–don’t flail, don’t divert eyes nervously, and don’t cross your arms or frown.
In any context, visual support enhances the words you are saying (it never distracts nor replaces / repeats content).
For help with any public speaking, whether a conference room presentation, a classroom presentation, or an interview, contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in job search documents, professional school applications, and interview preparation. For one-on-one support in preparing for your job search or to set up a campus workshop, contact Darcy: email@example.com