Public speaking is a skill like any other—to become great at it, you need to practice. But if you’re like most, then you probably don’t have a room full of people at the ready that you can speak in front of every day. Don’t let that stop you from practicing, though.
There are actually a ton of games and activities you can take advantage of that’ll help you hone your chops and become the best presenter you can be without the need for a formal audience.
According to research, an excellent presentation is 38% your voice, 55% non-verbal communication and just 7% your content. In other words, your delivery matters even more than what you say, and this exercise helps you refine it. Find a paragraph online in a language you don’t understand or simply write down a few lines of jibberish, and practice saying it aloud as though you’re giving a speech. Pay mind to your tone, inflections, and generally how you can use your voice to create more interest.
Learn From the Pros
Look online for speeches that are widely accepted as exceptional. The most popular TED Talks of all time is a great place to start. Pick a talk that you’re interested in and watch it through a critical lens. Analyze the narrative structure the speaker uses, what makes their delivery effective, how their visuals enhance their talk and other components that make their speech extraordinary.
30 Seconds Filler-Free
Filler words like “uh” “um” and “y’know” not only make your talk more difficult to listen to, but they also make you seem less prepared and authoritative. For this exercise, record yourself giving a talk on any topic for 30 seconds, taking care to omit all filler words. Whenever you use a filler word, start over and try again. Do this exercise ten times, filler-free.
One Minute Off-the-Cuff
For this exercise, you’ll set a timer on your phone for one minute and record yourself giving an impromptu speech on any topic that interests you. The only rule is that you can’t prepare for it in any way. This is designed to get you more comfortable speaking off-the-cuff and minimize the anxiety that comes from being afraid you won’t have anything to say.
Tell a Photo Story
Storytelling is critical to engaging your audience and helping them retain the information you’re sharing. To practice developing narratives, find an interesting photo online and record yourself presenting a story about it. Discuss what you think the backstory is, who the people are, their dreams, their motivations, and anything else that’ll tell a compelling story about them.
Make Up a Definition
No matter what your presentation is about, you should always seem like you have authority over the topic. For this exercise, choose a word you don’t know the definition of and record yourself saying, with authority, what you think it means. Pay attention to how you can use your voice and intonations to have more command and seem more authoritative.
Q&A With an Expert
You’ll need to find a friend for this one. Choose a topic or job that you don’t know much about. Ask your friend to interview you about it and answer their questions as though you’re a well-informed expert. This will help you with both your delivery and authority.
Gush About Something You Don’t Love
Enthusiasm is contagious. If you want your audience to be excited about your topic, then you need to show enthusiasm for it. Choose something you’re indifferent about, say, a kitchen utensil, and practice speaking about it enthusiastically. Use your voice, emphasis, and body language to make it seem like the most exciting thing in the universe.
Make a Commercial
Presentations are all about selling an idea, so you should practice the art of sales and persuasion to be the best you can be. Choose an item in your home and create a one-minute commercial about it. Record yourself saying what makes it special, how it can enhance lives, and why everyone needs that item in their corner.
Where Did That Name Come From?
This is another exercise that’ll make you a better storyteller on stage. Pick an item in your home, like a stapler, and tell a story about how it got its name. The idea here isn’t to be accurate, so by all means, make something up; this is just to get you in the habit of finding and developing interesting stories from anything.
Looking for more ways to improve your presentation game? Then take Ethos3’s Badge Assessment to discover your unique presentation persona.