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How to Speak Professionally: The Complete Guide for Beginners

Picture this: After years of hard work in your field, you are asked to give a speech at an important event.

But you walk onto the stage and bomb.

Your voice shakes, and you swallow your words as nervousness takes over. Maybe you fidget or lose the audience using filler words and slang phrases.

Nothing about this conveys the image of someone who knows how to speak professionally. You lose credibility, and your professional speaking career sinks before it has a chance to begin.

Speaking at events can be an excellent opportunity to make contacts and grow your business. If you want to build a brand or an audience, you need to put yourself out there.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that mastery of your specific business or field will be enough to get you to the next level. Research shows that you have only a matter of seconds to make a first impression.

Read on to learn the importance of public speaking skills and how to talk professionally.

How to Speak Professionally - Hosted by TEDx speaker Taylor Conroy - Click to watch the video

What Is Professional Speaking?

A professional speaker is someone who embraces public speaking to become an authority in their field. It can be an excellent way for executives and business people to grow their audience and social media following.

If you want to be the reference and go-to person when a particular topic arises, then professional speaking is definitely the right move for you. You can share your specific business knowledge and expertise. In addition, you can use your particular skills and experience to help clients solve problems or teach them something about their business.

You may even start to land paying gigs that allow you to travel around the country educating and motivating crowds of people.

Let us start with the basics, and soon, you will be landing a TED talk.

How to Speak Professionally

If your goal is to become a professional speaker, you need to learn how to speak more professionally.

Speaking professionally comes down to your choices in verbal and non-verbal communication. It can range from your tone of voice to your choice of jargon or slang and your body language.

Here are some public speaking techniques that could help you:

6 Ways to Speak Professionally Infographic

1) Watch Your Tone of Voice and Inflection

Research has shown that almost 40 percent of a person’s attitude comes across in the tone and inflection of their voice.

Inflection refers to the rise and fall of your voice, whereas tone can also refer to the quality of your voice and the volume at which you are speaking.

Ideally, you want to speak as naturally as possible. Avoid a high-pitched tone and keep your intonation steady and confident. You might not notice yourself ending sentences with a slight increase in pitch, as if you are asking a question.

This inflection makes it seem as if you are asking for advice or information rather than telling your audience something. It can make you appear less confident and less credible.

Speaking in a deeper, lower-pitched voice is often advised to appear credible, authoritative, and competent.

2) Body Language and Facial Expressions

As part of a successful first impression, pay attention to your body language and facial expressions when practicing public speaking.

Smiling can make you appear more trustworthy and likable. Don’t be afraid to use gestures to convey your message and passion. It is also essential to make eye contact with your audience. This makes you appear confident and authoritative.

Eye contact can also help you focus.

The most crucial tip is to remain genuine in your facial expressions and hand gestures, as the audience will pick up on forced movements and you will lose their trust and interest.

3) Say No to Slang and Fillers

So, like, if you want to know how to talk professionally, um, you ah, should not like speak like this. Ever.

Filler words are so common in everyday speech that we don’t even notice ourselves using them. When it comes to professional speaking, whether in a business meeting or on stage, they are a major turnoff.

If your speech is full of ums and ahs, you will sound unsure and ill-prepared. Practicing public speaking will aid in cutting out these words and speaking more confidently.

The same goes for swearing or using slang. It can be hard for people to take you seriously as a professional if you include these in your material.

4) Speak in Active Tense

If you want to keep your audience interested and attentive, speak in the active voice. This means you would say, “We developed our new product in one month,” rather than, “Our product was developed by us in one month.”

It is far more engaging to listen to a speech that sounds decisive and confident. This is what active voice will achieve.

5) Know Your Audience

It is important to have a very clear idea of who you are speaking to and adjust your message accordingly.

Don’t use niche jargon or words people are likely to have never heard if it is not suitable for the audience. You won’t impress them. You will just lose their interest and fail to get your message across.

Be clear and specific, don’t beat around the bush.

6) Tell Stories

People are much more likely to retain facts if you use visual aids and images. If you tell stories or a funny anecdote, you will capture their interest.

Don’t think the rules on slang and jargon mean you have to be mechanical and dry. People like the personal touch. Just keep it on topic and appropriate to the audience.

From The Mirror to a TED Talk

Now that you have learned some important public speaking skills, you need to apply them.

If you want to go from the boardroom to speaking at events or even giving a TED Talk, you need to hone these skills. Become an expert in your field and never stop researching and learning about your topic.

Learn from incredible professional speakers you admire and try and draw inspiration from what it is that makes them so engaging. You can adapt these skills to your own personality and field. Pay attention to the jargon they use.

Record yourself speaking and also ask for feedback from others. Don’t be afraid to hear criticism. You might not realize that you talk too fast or tell too many bad jokes, but someone else might.

What Next?

If your goal is to be a professional speaker, you need to learn how to speak professionally and practice as much as possible. Grab any opportunity you can for speaking at events or practicing public speaking.

To take your speaking to the next level and land those juicy gigs you dream of, why not hire a coach to get advice on your professional speaking career?

How to Speak Professionally - Hosted by TEDx speaker Taylor Conroy - Click to watch the video


Joelle Cullimore
Marketing Content Manager

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