Public speaking is not a natural talent; it’s a set of skills any highly-motivated person can develop with time. This skill has always been an important one since it helps to get a message across, change minds, and even influence people’s behaviours. It’s a power that true leaders had a chance to discover.
According to the latest statistics, the fear of giving a speech in front of a crowd is quite common. Some studies show that approximately 75% of the population struggle with this fear to different degrees.
If you decide to master your public speaking skills, it will help you to become a better leader and improve your career prospects. Here is what you need to know to bust your fear and become a great speaker within a short time:
Know your Topic
The first and most important step is to write a well-researched speech. If you study the subject from A to Z, you will feel comfortable speaking in public about it. So go to libraries, take edX, Udemy, and James Cook University Online Courses to become an expert.
It’s important in case someone asks you a question after your speech. To write a good speech, you should also take into account your audience’s level of knowledge.
When preparing your speech, consider using visual aids. Avoid adding massive amounts of text or too many slides since it can overwhelm your audience. Every visual element should underline your message and make it easier for people to understand what you want to tell them.
Before you start practising, you should definitely ask a trusted person to read your speech out loud. They might point you at some mistakes you couldn’t see on your own.
After your speech is reviewed and approved, practice as much as possible ( practice makes perfect, right?). You should pay attention to things such as body language, posture, speaking rate, and breathing. Some people rehearse in front of the mirror, while others are ok with filming themselves.
Once you master your moves, posture, and breathing, consider giving a speech in front of your friends. They might help you to get used to the thought that you will talk in front of a crowd. Also, they can give you honest feedback and possibly point out some of your mistakes. Let your friends do it, not the random people in the audience.
You may want to memorize an exact script to be more confident on the stage. However, it might make you sound robotic. That’s why experienced speakers recommend memorizing the first and the last lines. You should keep in your head the structure of the speech in the first place, not exact sentences. It will give you a chance to speak naturally.
While on Stage
Newbies usually make the same mistakes while giving a speech. One of the most terrible mistakes is burying your face in notes. You can try to hide in your notes. However, it will not help you to deliver the right message to the audience. On the contrary, people are more likely to lose interest in you.
Also, your hands can tremble while being on the stage. The notes in your hands will only make it more visible. So, it’s better not to take any notes with you.
You have it all in your head, it’s fine.
To connect with the audience, you should make eye contact with people. You may want to look at someone you know very well. Once you feel comfortable, consider moving from one person to another. In this case, people will listen to you more carefully.
Try to find the perfect speed pacing. A lot of inexperienced speakers rush through to get it over with. However, it only underlines their insecurity. To avoid this, you should use more pauses. You should insert ‘strategic’ pauses before or after important points. It will allow you to get attention before an important part of your speech and gather your thoughts.
In case you forget your speech, keep talking anyway. The thing is that you are the only one who knows how it should be. So, don’t freeze – just start filling the gaps. Eventually, you will remember what you wanted to say.
Another thing is to remember that the audience is actually on your side. They don’t want you to mess up. And no, they will not humiliate you if you make a mistake.
Last but not least, you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself, no matter what. You might forget a few lines or your legs might shake. It’s fine since all people get nervous, especially in front of the crowd.
No matter how your performance goes, you have to give yourself a bit of grace afterwards. People in the audience will not remember your speech forever anyway, so let it go and make sure to enjoy yourself.