Back in college, I remember how we used to freak out at the mere mention of a presentation. This is the time when excuses could be created from the heavens left, right and center about this and that. From having a sore throat to nursing a sick child, many would rather skive such occasions.
Interestingly, some would prefer to stand on stage during a group presentation than going solo. You would suggest a presentation to him or her only to be met with dazed eyes like a bullock being led to the slaughter. Public speaking is the art of sharing your message with a large audience. Just like anything, it is an art that can be learned and mastered by anybody. So who is a good public speaker? Moreover, how can you become one?
Personally, I have spoken before thousands of people, both old and young. Whether it was for five minutes or twenty, I must say the experience was great at the same time encouraging. You may also be wondering, “What is the point or essence of being a good public speaker?” Well, wait until you are called upon to give a speech or a vote of thanks at your brother’s graduation ceremony. Not many of us think about public speaking until when the rare moment splashes you out of your slumber. This is the time when, anxiety, fear and uneasiness sets in and chokes your voice and confidence reducing you to a paper tiger.
To be a good public speaker does not call for any mathematics or rocket science but a deep interest and passion to be counted among the great public speakers of this world. Read on to learn more about successful tips that will make you a good public speaker.
Tip #1: Speak With Your Natural Voice
How do you speak during a normal conversation with your friend? What is the tone of your message or voice? Being a good public speaker demands that you speak with your true voice rather than put on a different voice on stage, which may actually serve to make you sound fake or trying too hard. It is advisable to use a conversational tone as this makes you sound more natural and the real you.
Besides, the most important aspect of public speaking is to pass your message across. No point of dragging yourself to fit in the allotted time for public speaking let us say in one hour or so. In fact, research suggests that adults can only sustain attention for not more than 20 minutes. Therefore learn to be precise and to the point as much as possible. Use “aahhs“ for breaks or pauses to take breath. Conversely, avoid using ‘aahhs” too much as they will turn out to be too monotonous reducing the flair in your speech.
Tip #2: Research
You do not want to share information that you do not know with a large group of people. To be a good public speaker a thorough research on the subject to speak about is necessary. This is more important considering the fact that some people in your audience could be more intelligent or knowledgeable than you. After doing research on the given topic, it is also important that you put your speech down in point form.
Our brains have a tendency to give us the false impression that we shall remember everything on stage but owe unto you. Expert speakers have a knack for doing it naturally without needing any notebook. However, a human is to err and you do not want to take any chances when you have been called upon to give a presentation or a simple speech to your target audience.
Tip #3: Cope With Your Nerves
A good public speaker has learned the art of taming his or her bad emotions. Occasionally, public speakers have to fight terrible feelings and thoughts before going to stage. This usually culminates into stage fright that makes anybody who wants to try to chicken out. One of the common feelings people experience before going to the stage is nervousness. Nervousness can be as bad as making you forget the key points you were to mention in your speech.
Nevertheless, the most important point to note here is that you should stop focusing too much on yourself and focus on the crowd before you. Shift your mind from your own self to that person in the audience who is in dire need of the information you need to pass across. Alternatively, you could take a deep breath as this will help calm your nerves by slowing down your heart rate and put you in a better position to give your speech.
Tip #4: Watch Your Body Language
Our bodies are always communicating even before we utter any single word. As a good public speaker, you want to ensure that your body language is in harmony with the words that come out of your mouth. For example, talking to your audience while not maintaining eye contact could be a clear sign of nervousness.
Your body could also portray a lack of self-confidence by not standing upright, crossing your arms or fidgeting. Still, nervousness could make you use inappropriate gestures that do not rhyme with your words.
Become a good public speaker by mastering your body language. Make maximum use of space on the podium by moving around. Engage your audience with the use of natural gestures and try to maintain eye contact as much as possible. If maintaining eye contact is much of problem to you, overcome it by focusing your eyes on your audience heads or on their nose bridges.
Tip #5: Care Not About the Mistakes You Will Make on Stage
Who doesn’t want to do it like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Or Winston Churchill? Despite a good public speaker having a way with words, they are human and chances are that they have erred not once or twice in their public speaking career.
You may have rehearsed severally and perfected on the speech to deliver just before going on stage, however, in the process of your speech delivery you just find out that you read the wrong name or skipped a paragraph.
Interestingly, not even your audience will notice the minor mistakes except you. Apologizing or retracting could just make it worse for you simply because in the first place the audience may not have noticed you making the mistake. On the other hand, if they happen to notice your mistake, they will appreciate the fact that you are human and you can make mistakes too. As a good public speaker, the most advisable thing to do after making a mistake is to continue with your speech delivery.
Tip #6: Make Your Speech Personal
Telling a story at the beginning of your speech or simply relating a personal experience could create a profound response from your audience. This is because people will relate more to real life experiences such as an ordeal, triumph or a harrowing experience.
Actually, people tend to pay more attention to real life stories than just listening to theoretical jargon. Besides, telling a story will make it easier for you to deliver your speech simply because no one else knows the story better than you do. This will serve to make you at ease thus enabling you to flow through your speech. Telling a story is one great art mastered by a good public speaker.
Tip #7: Practice, Practice and Practice
Practice works to build your confidence on stage. For example, you could practice public speaking by rehearsing while recording your voice. Later you can listen to yourself speak and be able to know your tone, pronunciations and adjust accordingly. Besides, practicing your speech will help you connect well with your target audience. Connecting with your audience means knowing them first. Are they experts or novices in the particular subject? If the experts, it means you need to put more energy into presenting or delivering something top-notch.
Practice makes perfect. This means that public speaking will become part of you eventually flowing out of you naturally like the big boys and girls do it. A good public speaker does not just speak but aims to connect with his or her audience as much as possible.
As far as I am concerned, a good public speaker does not fall down from heaven but rather they come from amongst us. That good public speaker could just be you and me apparently because public speaking is a skill that is learned over time with much practice. A quote from Paul Arden could just be the antidote you need right now to save face from your constant stage frights and excuses about good public speaking. “Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you go, and fix it along the way…”
Happy you read.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.