Public speaking—a fate worse than death, so the surveys say. You’re on your own to become the speaker you want to be—or need to be. Here are a few tips for improving your public speaking skills with technological assistance and old-fashioned self-criticism.
Will technological wonders never cease? Your smartphone’s app store boasts a variety of speech-improvement apps that can help you bolster your speaking abilities. The app will ask you a random question to answer as best you can—think small-talk icebreakers like “what did you do at work today?” or “who have been your biggest influences?” From there, you’ll respond into your phone’s microphone as the app records your response. When you’re done, you’ll receive a report on your volume, verbiage, clarity, modulation, and how many placeholder syllables—“ums,” “uhs,” and “y’knows”—you used. After this, you’ll know exactly what to work on and how many “ums” to pare down from your speech.
Go with the Teleprompter
If you’re an aspiring video star speaking on camera rather than in a live setting, you can offload a lot of your responsibilities onto a handy teleprompter. Once the sole province of news anchors and presidents, you can now get some help reciting large amounts of material. Beyond the traditional TV studio teleprompter, there are other models on the market, which offer simpler and more modern alternatives. You could also use a tablet as your prompter of choice.
Be Mindful of Your Body
There’s a word for almost everything, and the word for your awareness and perception of your body is proprioception. Improving your proprioception can improve your speaking abilities. Think about your posture when you speak. Do you slouch or sway? Does your head tend to slump down? What do you do with your hands? It’s not just a matter of presenting assertive body language—maintaining excellent posture helps you enunciate and project your voice.
Looking in the mirror can be hard enough. Seeing what the camera and audience see can be even harder. Nevertheless, one of our top tips for improving your public speaking skills is to record yourself on video and analyze your performance. While you may not get an audio analysis as you would from the smartphone apps, you can see what you can do better in terms of the physical aspects of speaking—and that can go a long way.