Public speaking is one of most people’s deepest fears, and even those who are proficient public speakers do get nervous beforehand.
It is all about getting noticed by the audience when you are on stage and getting them to listen to what you have to say.
Also known as glossophobia, the fear of public speaking or stage fright is something many people have experienced before because they just do not do it often enough to feel comfortable. While there are some speakers and presenters who are just born without any fear of public speaking, there are a majority among us who still need to work on it.
For those of us who are new or rarely have to speak in public, here is a beginners’ guide to effective public speaking.
Practice makes Progress
Always remember that practice makes progress, so start practicing and rehearsing your presentation or speech in front of the mirror. Even better, try and practice it in front of family or friends and they could provide feedback on areas of improvement.
If you are unable to gather your own personal crowd, you could try recording yourself on video and watch it afterwards. Be your own critic and pick up all of the errors you made. The video recording is a clear and fast way to show you right away what area needs improvement.
Remember to prepare a small stack of cue cards for yourself so that you stay focussed on the main points. However, should you happen to go off topic, the cue cards also help remind you where you were last.
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Calm the Nerves
A beginners’ guide to effective public speaking also includes having an early night, as it helps to calm the jittery nerves. So, don’t have a late night before your event. Get well rested and you will be all fresh and pumped up for your event the next day.
Another beginners’ guide to effective public speaking is finding ways to calm your nerves. While it is easier said than done, you know that you are trying your best. Drink a glass of water before your speech, or even better, a good cup of tea. Herbal tea like lavender, chamomile or rose tea can help soothe and calm the nerves before a public speaking event.
Another great tip is to visit the site earlier and take a moment to get comfortable with the venue before the audience arrives. Check all necessary equipment such as laptop connection, presentation slides and even test the microphone and monitors (if necessary) to avoid any technical disasters. You can even have a go at rehearsing your speech on the stage, if time and venue permits.
When presenting in front of your audience, remember to always be yourself. Find your own style that you are comfortable with. You may have been watching videos on YouTube of other public speakers and presenters. However, do not try to be them – those speakers and presenters make public speaking look easy because they are being themselves and not imitating someone else.
Oscar Wilde once said “be yourself, since everyone else is already taken”. So, know who you are and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Find the natural aspects of your personality and do whatever works best for you.
Making it Personal
Mohammed Qahtani, who won the title of Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking 2015, mentioned that when you are on stage, the most important thing is the audience. It is not the way you look or how you sound, but how much you care about your audience. Qahtani focusses on how his audience reacts and adjusts his delivery depending on how they engage with his material.
While it may be difficult to do when you are still new to public speaking, try looking at the audience as a group of familiar people such as your family members and friends. You could try having a go at poetic licence, to heighten the effect of your speech so your audience is intrigued.
As a beginner to public speaking, it will be daunting and exciting at the same time. Enjoy each step of the moment when using these tips. Take note that when public speaking is done properly, it can be rewarding. All you have to take note is the planning, the preparation and delivery of your speech.
When you speak well, the world will listen.