Public speaking is one of my favorite activities at work, whether it is selling a product or negotiating a contract. It allows me to gather information, to win over an audience and increase my leadership influence. It is the ability to be eloquent and to persuade which gives me an edge over the competition.
Public speaking skills are useful on a daily basis. They can be learnt, they are required in different social situations, from professionals to students.
However, public speaking requires a certain level of confidence, preparation, technique, voice control, clear ideas, arguments, objectives, good knowledge of the audience.
It also generates severe anxiety in most people. And, keeping your composure in stressful situations will demonstrate your leadership skills.
Wondering how to deliver your best speech and overcome fear of public speaking?
The importance of public speaking
Avoiding public speaking can be detrimental to your career, to your relationships and to your personal growth. This skill is called upon for celebratory events, meetings.
Public speaking enables you to transform people, influence some people, persuade others, help people work toward a personal or common goal, inspire emotions and provide value, convey a vision, drive change and positive actions, introduce new information, innovative ideas to a crowd.
It allows you to gain trust, to solidify your credibility, to become more confident, to find your voice, to address difficult conversations and find solutions.
Coping with the fear of public speaking
Public speaking can make some people anxious because the speaker is at the complete mercy of the audience. The good news is that fears are learnt behavior and can be unlearned. To get rid of your debilitating fear:
- Keep in mind that the audience is generally supportive, even though they can make or break you.
- Change your perspective and think of your speech as a conversation. To help you do so, practice in front of family and friends.
- Start your speech with questions to get your audience more engaged.
- Stay present, stop over-analyzing the situations and stop trying to be perfect.
- Visualize a positive outcome.
- Avoid trying to completely remove your anxiety. Instead, channel it otherwise, distract yourself from these emotions by exercising or listening to music.
Honing your public speaking skills
When speaking publicly you want to be understood, to guide them to your ideas. Public speaking doesn’t need to be your full-time job to be useful. To hone your public speaking skills:
- Understand your audience. Your audience comes from different backgrounds, have diverse interests and needs. To forejudge their responses to your speech, analyze your audience, their culture, their current situation. Then, identify the points that you need to emphasize and those you need to remove.
- Decide and format your content. It is important to know what you will be talking about. Furthermore, the format of your content will depend on the event.
- Detail your speech, arrange your arguments in order of importance and organize your content to increase retention.
- Employ different tools for your presentation like PowerPoint.
- Give your audience practical advice.
- Keep it simple, use short sentences, get to the point.
- Introduction and conclusion are key and have to be most prepared.
- Ensure that you passionate about the topic beforehand. Your passion will motivate the audience.
- Determine your objective. Understand the need you have to impact your audience, the need to speak at this event and the decision to explore this specific topic.
- Determine your communication style and rhetoric. It is important to mind your verbal and nonverbal delivery, to pay attention to your delivery, your tone and your voice more than you do to the content of your speech.
- Captivate the audience and interact with them within the 10 first seconds.
- Use action verbs, personal pronouns, present tense, tangible language, proper grammar, appropriate logic and conventional language. Adapt your message and language to your audience.
- Use your own words to convey your personality and keep the audience engaged.
- Learn to tell stories, to use relatable examples, your personal experiences and interests. This is why it is important to know your audience.
- Ask provocative questions, embody the story and act out the anecdotes.
- Before you start speaking, take a moment, breathe, master your fear, control yourself and your thoughts.
- Keep your energy up from beginning to end.
- Stand up straight, shoulders backward and arms open. Look at people in the eye and smile to put people at ease.
- Walk around on stage before the speech to get an idea of the space available. This will allow you to feel at home on stage or in public and to move your body at will.
- Act natural. There is nothing more off-putting and distracting than someone acting theatrical.
- Look the part but don’t let your clothes distract your audience from the message.
- Keep in mind that your audience wants to see you win. Stay focused: don’t be distracted by the audience, by naysayers and hecklers.
- Treat your speech like an opportunity to have a conversation with friends.
- Incorporate humor in your set if you are brave enough. Humor is risky but self-deprecating humor is always the best option.
- Observe your competition, listen to other speakers and take notes.
- Rehearse your speech relentlessly and don’t let it show. Rehearsing will help you deliver your speech with confidence, avoid searching for words, avoid skipping important points. Practice will also make you a leader in your field and increase your credibility.
- Solidify your credibility. There is nothing
- Become an expert on the subject, create your own content and connect the dots properly.
- Be transparent, trustworthy, fair and respectful. Conduct yourself morally.
- Care for your audience and share valid information that will progress them
- Agree to disagree with your audience, respect their values, avoid attacking them and don’t make them feel stupid.
- Stay away from hate speech, offensive, untruthful, distorted and slanderish speech
- Keep sharpening your public speaking skills and take some classes.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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