Even if you have God-given talent for public speaking, this is a craft that takes a lot of practice and consciousness to master. For a lot of people it’s the root of their anxiety, but nowadays, anyone who wishes to be successful needs to speak publicly once in a while, even if it’s not in their job description. It’s a skill that needs to be developed and which is highly appreciated and sought-after by employers. From TED talks to small presentations in a board meeting, this article is here to help fight anxiety and teach the steps it takes to truly wow the audience.
Public speaking at its core is all about the basic psychology and art of proper communication. If you take your time, research, learn and master the basics of communication, you will go a long way in public and all other types of communication. Today, this is something everyone should be studying, as mastering this skill is possibly the best investment in yourself both personally and professionally.
Even the most seasoned public speaker takes a considerable amount of time preparing and practicing before the time comes to speak. Proper practice helps the words form more naturally, and gives a great flow to the speech. Practicing also helps build the structure of your speech up in your head, so you don’t constantly have to look through your notes to see what comes next.
But at the time your breath hits the mic, adrenaline kicks in, which is the number one reason why practice is very important. Adrenaline causes your hands to sweat, your heart to beat out of your chest, and your feet to stick to the ground. But it’s the same adrenaline that raises your awareness and reaction time, to ensure a great, smooth speech. Learning how to use adrenaline to your benefit while taking the necessary effort and time to build, learn and practice the structure of your speech is the number one thing that can take your public speaking skills to the next level.
Another thing to always remember is that nervousness is completely normal. But if you practice a lot, maybe even videotaping yourself, or getting a friend to critique your performance, that can go a long way.
Consider Your Audience
When preparing for a speech, it’s very important to consider the people you are talking to. Finding a connection will make you and your message more approachable and relatable, therefore can positively affect the feedback of your audience. This can be a great way to polish your presentation. Also, if you find a commonality between you, your message, and the audience, you can better tackle nervousness with some last-minute comments that break the tension.
Keeping an eye on the audience’s body language and non-verbal feedback can raise the quality of your speech also. Stay flexible, and learn to adapt to different non-verbal cues that come your way to keep your message interesting and relatable. Learn how to keep the attention of an audience that loses interest or becomes bored, but always remember that it’s sadly a normal occurrence and there’s a possibility you can’t grab the attention of every member of your audience.
Building your speech in the most logical and approachable way is another very important step. A logical build and structure can help you better remember connections and cause-effects, and the audience will better understand your speech. You also should start with a statement of your purpose, as it’s crucial to grab the audience’s attention in the first 30 seconds of your speech. Keep it simple and have a strict framework for your message.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Personal
Let your personality come through in your performance. Whether it’s in your speech, or rather non-verbal, your listeners will be more devoted if they can relate to not only your message but your person. It’s also the most effective way of building trust. You can even use modern slang, tell related personal stories, or use your humor to keep the performance light and bubbly. Use your body language to your advantage and talk naturally while keeping an eye out for what listeners want to hear. If you’re talking to young people about a heavy subject, sew in anecdotes and jokes to make it more relatable, and help them contextualize what you are trying to get through.
Don’t Read From a Script
If possible, omit a heavy script that you have to read from. For one, it’s hard to find your place again when improvising or talking out of memory. Secondly, it’s not a good look when you’re looking down the entire time and reading. Instead, use a rough outline of what point comes after the other, so you remember the framework and logic of your message. Notes are there to jog your memory, and not for you to remember the exact words you used when practicing.
Having a dynamic conclusion is just as important as having an attention-grabbing first 30 seconds. Audiences tend to remember the beginning and end of any longer show or speech. Not because they don’t care, but because they can’t remember everything you’ve said. Even you had to practice a lot to memorize all this information. So make the beginning and end the most crucial, and put building blocks and connections in the ‘body of your speech. Start with a startling statistic, or a related anecdote, and end with a strong statement and summary of what the main point was that they should remember and take with them.
While overwhelming, public speaking is the most effective and relatable way to get through to any audience. Knowing how to use non-verbal and verbal cues can take your presentation to the next level. Be sure to stay connected to your audience while never losing sight of your purpose and main framework. If you concentrate on your audience and remember your structure, all else will stay in the background including your anxiety and other obstacles.