What Do You Fear?
For some, spiders; for many, ghosts; others would say heights, but there are those who would admit that public speaking is their greatest fear.
It is actually normal. Come to think of it, there is nothing more frightening than having to stand up and speak in front of a group of people who could sleep, shout at you, laugh at you, or leave while you are talking. Even actress Debra Messing of Will and Grace surprisingly had this fear all her life. And she’s an actress! Imagine how much worse this could be for those who haven’t even had the chance to go up om a stage ever in their lives.
Thankfully, public speaking is a fear that can easily be overcome. Even if you are not exactly fearful, but you think you still need improvement, you can improve your public speaking skills quite easily by following the tips below.
Be prepared and practice.
The value of preparation can never be overemphasized. It adds confidence and substance to your speech. Research your topic well and try to find the best way to present it. Outline your points and use cue cards if necessary. Practice your delivery to make sure that your talk will not exceed the time allotted for you and also so you can assess your delivery. If you are to speak at a very important engagement, try to practice your speech in front of someone who could properly assess how you have done.
Know your audience.
Technically, this is still part of being prepared but it is so important that it calls for a separate entry. Knowing your audience provides you with valuable insight on the type of presentation that would appeal best to them. It guides whether you can be casual and funny or whether you would have to be serious and sophisticated. It also gives you great input in streamlining your speech by suggesting what you need to include and what you can do without.
Dress the part.
As much as we refuse to admit, image is everything. How the audience responds to you highly depends on how they perceive you. Generally, you would appear as a more convincing speaker if you are dressed well. Also, since the audience will have to look at you anyway, might as well make that experience a pleasant one for them.
KISS. Keep It Short and Simple.
Even geniuses have limited attention spans. Do not bore your audience to death with a speech that is too long. The faster you can get your message across, the better. A short and simple message also appears smarter and it prevents you from being perceived as someone who came unprepared. It also allows your listeners to retain what you have said easily.
In addition to these, your public speaking skills will also be improved if you practice establishing eye contact with your audience. Also, if the occasion and your resources will permit, you can use visual aids such as slide presentations, product samples, handouts, etc to stimulate your audience’s attention. To cap off your presentation, you should be able to answer the audience’s question confidently and with tact.
Remember that there could really come a time when you will have no other choice but to speak in public. So you might as well be ready when that time comes. It could either be a disastrous or a pleasant experience for you; and you have all the power to make the most out of it. Follow the tips above and you’ll surely be on your way to become a natural at public speaking.
Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org)can help you develop your communication skills. Find out more information and check to see clubs in your area.
You too can become a confident speaker