Public speaking comes with its own fair share of challenges. One of the terrifying aspects of public speaking is addressing a crowd.
Many people admit to being nervous and developing stage fright of having to take a stand before others to make a speech, yet oratory skills are one of the most valued and profitable business skills.
If you want to develop your public speaking abilities, the fear of public speaking is controlled and overcome with practice and the right techniques.
A little thing I always say to myself that makes me smile and relax is, ‘while I’m here being busy worrying about not making a fool of myself before these people, they are probably busy admiring my new shoes and how good I look, they are just people like me.’
Expect to be nervous and admit it if need be
Bear in mind that even experienced speakers do get nervous. Don’t try to undermine your feelings. You can even admit to your jitters humorously to your audience. That way they are more accommodating to your errors and would not be expecting a World-class presentation. It gives you the opportunity to relax and be yourself to turn your jitters into energy that you can use to boost a delivery that surprises even you.
Redefine your audience
Our stage fright is usually based on self-preoccupied thoughts. Thoughts such as ‘I am going to suck at this, how am I doing, I am not good enough et cetera,’ keeps the focus on you and these thoughts only grow as long as your focus is on them. Take the focus off yourself and think of your audience. ‘Are you carrying them along? Is your voice projecting enough’?
Redefine your perspectives for assessing your audience. Probably, instead of seeing them as judges who are busy evaluating you, you could think of them as teammates who are genuinely interested in hearing your opinion and possibly learning something from you – what is that one thing you would want them to leave with?
Every successful action requires preparation. This is your key to a successful presentation – speech. Knowing what you are going to say, who to, and why you want to say what you wish to say has a way of instilling confidence.
Practice does make perfect
Hone your skills through practice. These days opportunity presents itself in many ways. Start small. It could be through videos (vlogging) podcasting, speaking to small, supportive audiences where less is at stake. Find and join Toastmasters around you. Consider working with a coach or taking a Dale Carnegie course on Effective Speaking or working with a private coach.
Remember To Breathe
Minutes before you step on to that podium to begin your speech, take several deliberate, slow, deep breaths through your nose, filling your abdomen and exhale through your mouth, repeat silently to yourself, ‘relax, be confident and vocal.’
Rehearse Your Speech
Stand up straight and tall, walk around as you practice out loud and use the right vocal pitch. Don’t yell your speech at your audience. Don’t memorize your speech word for word. Memorizing your speech means can lead to speaking disaster. Once you lose your train of memory, everything would likely go downhill from that point and you’ll lose focus. Talk through your speech, think it through point by point and listen to yourself as you speak. Imagine that you’re explaining your main ideas to a friend or a colleague and having a normal conversation.
Simplify Your Thoughts
Don’t try to put too much in one speech. Most times when a speaker tries to add too much in a speech, it burdens the mind over the fact that you could forget an aspect of your speech and lose your train of thought. Your aim instead is to communicate one basic idea. Keep your points short and straightforward.
Visualize A Successful Speech
Practice relaxation techniques days before your presentation. Find a quiet place to lie down or sit comfortably for a quarter of an hour. Take deep, slow breaths. Close your eyes and imagine your upcoming speaking engagement. Picture yourself connecting and addressing your audience with confidence.
Invest in visual aids
Think of presenting with engaging, well-outlined PowerPoint slides. Half of the time, this reduces your audience’s attention on you. They will focus more on reading through your interesting slides. With less attention on you, this would probably help you to relax and speak better.
Connect with your audience
Connect with your audience beforehand by introducing yourself and having a brief chat with some people. During your speech, look them in the eye and speak to one person at a time. That brief connection makes your job as a speaker easier. While making your presentation, if you can make them laugh and be more interactive with you, your presentation will have that casual feel to it which will make it more memorable than others. Ultimately you will find it easier to do.
Use opinion and anecdotes
When speaking, add a few of your personal examples or opinions to buttress your points. Think of examples that relate to your speech well ahead of time. Adding your personal touch to a presentation rouses the need-to-know interest of your audience – because people just like knowing stuff about other people – it gives them that feel that they can connect with you or that your example resonates with them. This elevates your presentation and increases your confidence as well as that of your audience.
Maintain eye contact and a friendly mien as you speak. To your audience, they will see a friendly and personable presenter. Most times people won’t see how nervous you are. They don’t know that the butterflies in your stomach have tripled and are doing somersaults and that your heart is about to pound out of your chest. Just breathe, smile, stand tall and look confident, even if you are feeling particularly small in that moment. You’ll sail through.