Most people would rather walk over hot coal than speak in public, and understandably so. It takes a lot of courage and confidence to stand in front of a crowd of people and address them as you would a group of friends you have been acquainted with for years. And yet, some people make it look so effortless. How do they do it? If you have always felt lacking in the public speaking arena, there are several tips you can make use of to go from self-conscious speaker to renowned orator.
Prepare and practice
Getting nervous about giving a public speech is natural and normal. As a matter of fact, the adrenaline rush that comes along with the nerves can be a good thing as it will keep you alert and help you deliver a powerful performance. However, you need to ensure that even in the presence of nerves, you have covered all ground that needed covering. Practice as much as you can before you go onstage. Videotape yourself during practice and then critic what could have been done better. Get a friend to watch you practice and let them share their thoughts with you. You’ll need this friend to be bluntly honest by the way.
Know your audience
You might have come up with the best speech in the history of speeches, but if it doesn’t speak to your audience then you’ll be in for some awkward silences where applauses should have been. Take time to understand what your audience cares about, then make your speech about them, not you.
Allow your personality to shine
When on stage, be yourself. This might be the most cliché statement ever but you will make a better impression and hold the audience’s attention more if you allow them to see the person behind the words.
Don’t read unless you have to
You’ve had plenty of time to prepare your speech and go through it. Don’t keep referring to the notes word for word, as this will break eye contact and reduce the interpersonal connection between you and your audience.
Grab your audience’s attention at the beginning and give them an ending they’ll remember
Do not dive right into the speech when you begin. Rather, start with an anecdote, a statistic or maybe a quotation that will resonate with your audience (see, know your audience). Then when you are finishing up, use a closing statement that will linger in the minds of your audience long after you have exited the stage.
Make use of gestures and tonal variation
The nonverbal part of your speech is as important as the verbal one. Make use of your hands. Be careful not to get carried away though, as this can be distracting and counterproductive. In the same breath, vary your tone depending on what you wish to convey. Delivering your speech in one flat monotonous tone will not keep your audience interested for very long.
Giving a speech can be a daunting task. However, with regular practice you can get better and more confident and maybe even start enjoying it. And always remember that there’s no pressure to be perfect. You just have to communicate really well to your audience and pass the intended message along.
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