The year is 1798. Napoleon Bonaparte’s army was embarking on an difficult mission – to conquer Egypt. Napoleon rallied thousands of his troops and sparked that fire in them, the fire that would drive them to conquer their enemy. It was not gold or silver that Napolean gave his troops, but the power of his words!
The power of one’s words has been the key to kings and rulers and leaders up to today.The ability to speak and persuade a room full of people is one of the most coveted skills in the modern Business/Corporate World. But speakingin front of others is still referenced as the number 1 fear for most people!
But neither this fear nor his stutter stopped Mohammed Qahtani, the winner of the ‘2015 Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking’ competition. His award-winning speech is not surprisingly called “The Power of Words!” Watch it here.
Qahtani shares 7 tips to master the art of speaking to a room full of people. Although the tips are presented for public speaking, these are equally applicable to presentations.
1. Have One Key Message to Convey
A speech is most effective when it has one central message that the audience needs to hear and takeaway. Keep the message simple and memorable. The entire speech should revolve around and point to this one message.
2. Connect With The Audience
When it is time to present/talk, focus on connecting with your audience. All other peripheral thoughts should disappear. The way you look, the way you speak and any other thoughts should be gone. Your entire focus should be on connecting with the audience. Your speech should energize the audience and the audience’s energy should drive your speech. The techniques to present and speak are mastered through practice and should come naturally. Thereby, you can refrain from thinking about the techniques.
3. Leverage Your Strengths
If you suck at humor in general, do not try to infuse humor in your speech. If you are dramatic by nature, use that in your speech and presentation to make a bigger impact. Know your strengths and use it to come across as an authentic speaker. One of Qahtani’s fellow Toastmaster members advised him to use his humor. He told Qahtani, “Some people are strong with their words, some people are strong with their voice, some people are strong with their stage presence. Your strength is humor. Use it.”
4. See Your Speech In Your Mind
A common mistake among presenters is when they memorize their speech. This causes a lot of problems on stage when they forget a word or a phrase. The presenter then spends their brain power trying to recall that next word or sentence. Qahtani recommends visualizing the key points in the speech. Again, practice the speech until it feels fluent like a conversation and focus only on visualizing those key points.
5. Know That YOU And Your Message Matters!
Adopt the mindset that your message and you matters. You are in front of the room because you have a message. Qahtani suggests thinking that you are better than your audience. Not in a conceited way, but with the knowledge that you have something of value to offer through your message.
6. Invoke A Variety Of Emotions
A monotonous speech gets boring and sometimes even depressing! An excess of humor could water down the message. Vary the emotions through the speech for audience entertainment. However, ensure that the audience always leaves with a sense of hope!
7. Practice With Feedback
Toastmasters offers the amazing benefit of getting timely and honest feedback from people who care. Since joining Toastmasters in 2009, Qahtani has come a long way to win the competition this year! He attributes his progress to the feedback he received at Toastmasters. Even for his winning speech, he cut down certain sections – which he originally perceived as important – thanks to fellow member’s feedback.
What other techniques and tips have improved your public speaking abilities? Please share.
Featured photo credit: Muhammed Qahtani via youtube.com
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