How to Talk in Front of a Large Crowd

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The thought of public speaking can strike pure terror in the hearts of even the most seasoned professionals. It is not uncommon for people to picture the worst case scenario when they're up in front of a big crowd - for example, stumbling over your words, blanking out completely or saying the wrong thing. These fears tend to result from feeling unprepared and lost in front of large groups of people. However, with sufficient preparation, public speaking can be a relatively relaxed experience.

  • Use both verbal and nonverbal communication. Communicating with a large crowd isn't solely about using words. Smile at your audience, make meaningful gestures with your hands and engage in eye contact with individual members of the crowd, one at a time. When making eye contact, keep your gaze for approximately three seconds. Occasionally look at the audience as a whole.

  • Talk with conviction. When speaking in front of a crowd, it is important to make your audience believe in you and what you are saying. Be persuasive and avoid starting sentences with words such as "I think" or "Maybe." Show the audience that you believe in the ideas that you are conveying to them.

  • Avoid reading from notes. It is acceptable to occasionally read from notes, but doing so for a long period of time will leave the crowd feeling bored and disconnected. It will also make you come across as uninterested in what you are communicating. Do your best to make your talk seem as spontaneous and genuine as possible.

  • Change up your voice speed and tonality. This can help to keep the flow of your presentation interesting and engaging. When you need to give a burst of energy to your presentation, speak in a slightly louder voice (although be sure never to shout). When you want to give your audience the impression that you are telling them something secret or exciting, speak more slowly.

  • Pause. When talking to a crowd, it is vital to use appropriate pauses. Give the crowd a little bit of time to reflect on what you are saying. Avoid racing nonstop through your presentation and allow the crowd (and yourself) some time to breathe.

  • Showcase your funny side. One key to successfully speaking in front of audiences is injecting a bit of humor into the discussion when appropriate. Humor keeps the atmosphere light and can also help to draw people in. Also, the last thing you want to do is bore your audience. A little bit of subtle humor here and there can help keep everyone engaged and interested.

Tips & Warnings

  • Stay away from vocalized pauses. These can make you look unprepared and nervous to people. Some examples of vocalized pauses include "um," "uh" and "mmm." Also, avoid use of filler vocabulary such as "like" and "yeah."

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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