14 Strategies for Developing Your Oratory Skills
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated November 21, 2022 | Published July 26, 2021
Updated November 21, 2022
Published July 26, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Related: How to Overcome a Fear of Public Speaking
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Public speaking is a skill many professionals use throughout their careers, so it's worth investing some time to develop your oratory skills and abilities. Speakers who hone their speaking skills can deliver powerful messages, express their ideas clearly and influence audiences to agree with them. If you want to build your confidence and capabilities as a public speaker, then you may be interested in learning about what steps you can take to improve your oratory abilities. In this article, we define what oratory skills are, share why they are important and list 14 strategies that can help you develop as a public speaker.
What are oratory skills?
Oratory skills include a variety of strengths and abilities that help professionals deliver engaging and influential public speeches. An orator is a public speaker who is well-known for their eloquent speaking skills. Some common speaking skills and strengths of professional public speakers include:
Why are speaking skills important?
Oratory skills are important because they can help professionals convey their ideas effectively, influence other people to agree with them and improve negotiations. Employers often seek candidates who have strong public speaking skills regardless of their industry because these individuals are excellent communicators. Developing your speaking skills can help you become an influential leader, motivate your team members, deliver engaging presentations and impress other professionals in your industry.
14 strategies for developing your oratory skills
Here are some strategies you can use to hone your public speaking skills and become a better public speaker:
1. Create an outline
While it may be tempting to write an entire script, using an outline instead can help you quickly find your place and easily refresh your memory while you are presenting. It can also improve eye contact with your audience and make you appear more confident. Consider what your key talking points are and include any important facts, statistics or quotes you plan to incorporate in your speech to develop an effective outline.
2. Emulate other great speakers
An excellent way to learn how to develop and deliver powerful speeches is to pay attention to how other successful orators perform. Take the time to watch and listen to influential speeches while paying attention to how the orators structure their sentences, the rhythm they use and their vocal inflection. Make note of which specific words they use to create vivid imagery and convey emotion.
You can also look for how they use pauses after certain words or statements to create a dramatic effect. Once you've identified why these speakers are successful, practise emulating them by adapting some of their techniques in your own presentations.
3. Get to know your audience
Before you start writing your speech, take the time to research who your audience is. Consider what they may already know about the topic you're presenting, the type of language they are familiar with and what stories they may relate to. Crafting a speech with your audience in mind can help you personalize your message and connect with them. It can also help you ensure your audience has all the key information they need to fully understand your presentation.
4. Incorporate visual aids
While visual aids may not be necessary for every speech, they can help capture an audience's attention, provide clarity about the topic you are presenting on and enhance your overall message if you use them correctly. Some common examples of visual aids public speakers use include charts and graphs, videos, handouts, posters and slides. Keep your visual aids simple and use them to highlight the key elements of your speech. You may also use visual aids to indicate transitions, serve as a memory aid or add personality to your presentation.
5. Include personal anecdotes
Including personal anecdotes in your speech can help you appeal to your audience's emotions and connect with them on a deeper level. Sharing funny anecdotes can also help you capture your audience's attention, improve their mood and create a memorable experience. When you craft your speech, consider what short and engaging stories you can include to illustrate key talking points and support your core message.
6. Pay attention to your vocal range
Skilled public speakers know how to adjust the pitch of their voice to add variety to their presentations. This can help audiences remain interested and engaged throughout their entire presentation. You can explore your vocal range by practising going up in pitch and then back down while delivering your speech. There are also exercises you can use to extend your vocal range, such as practising your scales, thirds and fourths when you warm up. You can also take lessons with a vocal coach to further hone your oratory skill set.
7. Be intentional about nonverbal communication
While vocal tone and projection are very important, paying attention to your body language can also help you deliver more engaging speeches. Consider how you can use eye contact, hand gestures and movement on stage to connect with your audience. Being intentional about your nonverbal communication can help you convey your ideas more effectively.
8. Highlight your personality
Showcasing your personality throughout your speech can help you connect with your audience and deliver an authentic presentation. It can also help you build trust with your audience, improve your credibility and make your presentation more memorable. Look for opportunities to share small details about yourself. Inject humour or incorporate language you would normally use in everyday life to craft a speech that's relatable.
9. Listen to audience feedback
Skilled orators pay attention to their audience's facial expressions, body language and reactions while they give their presentations. This helps them adapt their content, vocal inflection and nonverbal cues to keep their audience interested. For example, if you make a statement that leaves your audience looking confused, take a moment to clarify your point before you move on. By doing this, you can provide more value to your audience and ensure they connect with your message.
10. Show conviction
If you want your audience to believe in what you have to say, show them you believe it too. Approach your presentation with confidence and practise your negotiation skills to persuade your audience to agree with you. Honing your influence and interpersonal skills can help you convey your passion for the subject you're speaking about and develop a sound message.
11. Harness the element of surprise
Ensure your speech is clear, cohesive and easy to understand, but consider incorporating a certain level of unpredictability to help you hold your audience's attention and make your presentation memorable. Try to craft a strong opening that interests your audience by including a poignant quote, sharing an interesting anecdote or delivering a jarring statistic. Continue to weave these elements into your speech when appropriate and conclude by presenting an impactful summary statement that your audience is likely to remember.
Related: How to End a Presentation
12. Practise public speaking
Practising public speaking can help you build confidence and feel more comfortable presenting in front of an audience. Rehearse your speech aloud in front of a mirror or for family and friends. You can also ask a colleague you trust for feedback to help you improve your delivery.
Look for environments that are similar to the space you plan to give your speech to practise in. This can help you get a better idea of what the real presentation may feel like when you deliver it. The more you practise public speaking, the more prepared you are likely to feel.
13. Consider timing
To make sure your speech is the appropriate length, time yourself when you practise your delivery. This can help you make sure you stay within the time constraints provided by the event organizer and respect your audience's schedule. If you're giving a long presentation, consider incorporating relief breaks or an intermission to allow members of the audience to use the bathroom, stretch, socialize or get a refreshing drink of water. This can help improve your audience's concentration throughout your presentation.
14. Memorize key points
Instead of relying on a script or memorizing your entire speech, focus on remembering the key points and topics you plan to discuss. This can help you deliver a more authentic speech and make it easier to adapt your content based on the audience's reaction. If you plan to give the same speech multiple times to different audiences, this can also help you add variety to your presentation, so it feels new each time you deliver it, further enhancing your oratory skills.
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