Let’s face it. We all will have to make a public speech at some point in our lives. And whether we were given a heads up or we were suddenly called to do it, it’ll be up to us to wow our audience or make a mess of ourselves.
If you are going to pass across your message effectively, sell an idea, or paint a vision to a particular set of people/audience without boring them, then public speaking is something you have to learn.
You’re probably asking yourself one question. Why should anyone even bother to learn how to speak effectively before an audience?
You see, everyone has a message and everyone has an audience, but not everyone’s message is special or unique. However, if you think you have a special message for your audience, what better way to pass it across than to communicate properly?
Yes! We get it. You get nervous on stage. It’s understandable. As a matter of fact, it’s normal because we all get that way.
Marjorie L. North, a speech pathologist and lecturer at Harvard University, who has been teaching public speaking courses for more than 35 years says, “When your heart starts pounding, you’re sweating, your hands are shaking, your knees are shaking, and you feel like you’re going to pass out — that’s the way everybody feels,”
So, how can you overcome your nervousness and become a great public speaker?
In this blog post, we’ll be sharing with you some tips on how to become a great public speaker.
- Know them before you meet them
Even before you appear on stage to your audience, do you do background checks? Know who these people are, their age group, their profession, the locations where they are coming from, their culture, and even their marital status, if possible. This is very important because people receive information in different ways.
For example, you cannot speak to teenagers the way you’ll speak with octogenarians. You cannot use the same examples or illustrations for an audience filled with Doctors and an audience filled with Lawyers. You cannot use the same analogy for an Asian audience and an African audience.
Make sure you know as much as you can about the people you want to speak to so that you’ll communicate the exact way they can understand.
- Start strong
You only have the first few minutes to get your audience’s attention. If you succeed, you can bet they’ll be attentive the whole time. But if you don’t, you will have to work harder to get them to listen to you, which is why it is important to standardize your introduction. As a matter of fact, prepare your introduction and rehearse it word for word until you can deliver it in your sleep.
According to “a top TED talks” research done by Vanessa Van Edwards and her team at Science of People, the team reported that “the ratings overall — who people liked overall and who they didn’t like — matched, whether they’d watched the first seven seconds or the full talk. We think that the brain actually decides as soon as that person takes the stage and begins speaking, “You know what? I’m gonna like this talk.”
Ever heard the phrase, “Knowledge conquers fear?”
When you take out to know exactly what you are going to say within the first 3-5 minutes of your talk, you push nervousness away. Your audience sees your confidence and they’ll become attentive to the things you have to say.
- Memorize concepts, not your content
Everyone knows that no one is perfect, so do not try to be.
Oftentimes, we think that the best way to give a flawless speech is to memorize our speech word for word. When you do that, you sound artificial, which is the opposite of what we want to achieve.
Besides, when you memorize your script word for word, your mind can go blank at any point, resulting in awkward silence and nervousness once again. This can destabilize you and ruin your presentation.
A good idea will be to outline your points rather than write them all down and read word for word. It allows the language you use to be more natural; it allows your voice to be much more natural and eye contact is better. You’re speaking to them about it. I could get up there and read a script from a paper without knowing anything about it.
- Tell your audience what they stand to gain
When people attend conferences, seminars, and other talk events, they do so with the intention of learning something new and getting inspired by the speaker. Hence, the need to announce to your audience what they stand to gain. Doing this will get their attention and get them interested in your speech because they know you’ve got a message for them indeed.
Remember that the essence of giving a talk is that you want to pass a message across to your audience. So do not get carried away with your speech that you forget to pay attention to your audience and offer them valuable solutions to their need.
- Engage with your audience
To engage with your audience, it’s best you take the time to study them. For instance, you can ask them questions or have them ask you questions at intervals. This makes you feel less isolated as a speaker and keeps everyone involved with your message.
- Use experimental and participative training
Public speaker, Michael Port, from time to time, makes his audience repeat key messages back to him, especially takeaway points of his speech. This keeps the audience involved, but even more brilliantly, it gives them devices to remember the material.
You see, the more your audience does, the more they understand and the more they engage.
When you plan your speech, think about how you can involve your audience so that at the end of the day, you are talking with them and making sense, not just talking to them.
- Speak to a single person
Most people speak well while talking with their friends. One big reason why most people are afraid of public speaking is that they are worried about speaking in front of a hundred or a thousand different people.
Don’t be deceived. The reason the people you want to speak to are called “an audience” is that they are one. Speak to them as though you’re conversing with a single person and you’ll do a great job.
- End Strong
Do this. Give people a list of 7 or 10 things and ask them a few minutes later to remember 3 of those things on the list. Chances are that most people will remember the first two and the last thing on the list. The reason is that we pay attention to the beginning and the end of things.
As a speaker, if there are two important things you have to plan so well about your speech, they are the beginning and the end of your speech. The first and last impressions determine how people feel about your speech.
End strong. Summarize the whole points and give them some great ideas as a take-home.
Now, this is it. The take-home in this blog post is; to plan your intro and outro and everything in between will be well.