Being a good public speaker isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. Even a person who’s extroverted and friendly in real life might be a ball of nerves when in front of a podium and a crowd. Luckily, this is a skill you can work on. Here are a few tips on how:
— Practice, practice, practice. Get in front of that mirror, and start speaking. Read a phone book, a menu, anything. Just seeing and hearing yourself speak in an authoritative way, while thinking confident, positive thoughts, will get you accustomed with the task. Then, start practicing with your actual speech. Again, out loud. Too many people prep for a speech in silence. Getting used to actually doing it, verbally, is much better prep.
— Involve the audience. Speak directly to audience members to help create a connection that will make the task seem less daunting and more personal. For instance, if you’re doing a speech about time management, ask, “How many of you have a tough time getting to sleep on time? And why is that – anyone care to share?” The answers could lead to a humorous — and real — moment that will feel like an icebreaker and set you at ease. You might start to feel like you’re just chatting with friends.
— Write down a general list of things to remember. Often in the act of making a speech, you forget points you never thought you would. If you wrote down a small list, you’ll be able to refer to it to make sure you’re not missing anything. Just a few words will do: in the aforementioned speech you just might want to write ‘kids and family; multitasking; digital overload; self-sabotage theory.’ Even if these topics are a part of your written notes or outline, this is an even briefer way to map out the flow in just a few words. And even if you never use them, you’ll feel comfortable knowing you have more than enough material to work with (one of the biggest reasons people fear public speaking is because they think they’ll run out of things to say).
— Remember the world is big. Very, very big. And you are very little in comparison. The world will not end if you do not make a perfect speech. And thousands and thousands of people are giving speeches all at the very same time, many bigger than yours. Understand that, while this has been your main focus and source of nerves – the center of your universe – it’s not the center of THE universe. Sounds overly simple, but this type of perspective can be very helpful for a lot of life situations.
— Think like the audience. They aren’t here to judge you. They’re just looking to be enlightened. Spend time thinking hard about this: what things will an audience member be looking to get out of my speech? Why are they coming to it? Keep that goal foremost in mind and give them what they want. This can deflect from the actual nerves and give you something else to focus on. (It’s also something you can ask people involved in the organizing of your speech; they’ll be happy to know you’re wanting to do well.)
Public speaking is an important skill in a lot of jobs, and it’ll help you in other related situations, like one-on-ones with your boss, and interviewing for that new job you really want. If you need other tips on brushing up your job skills, call us today!