Public speaking is reportedly the greatest fear people feel. And what’s behind that fear? Concern about stumbling, or being thought foolish, or not being a ‘great orator’. But the truth is that very few people are born great public speakers… they learn the ropes, they learn the strategies, and they develop better skills. They all started somewhere, and no matter what stage your public speaking is now at, you can further develop and polish it, with a few smart strategies.
1. Speak on your passion
This is the best piece of advice when it comes to public speaking. Often the nerves kick in when you aren’t confident enough in what you are speaking about. Therefore make sure you talk about what you are passionate about. Rule of thumb, if you had to get up and speak at a function without preparation what would the topic(s) be?
2. Say yes to speaking invitations
You can’t get better at public speaking without practice. Offer your services for free when and where you can, to get practice. The smaller the function, the better for starter practice — and then work your way up to larger audiences. Just remember there is no difference between speaking to 50 people and speaking to 10,000.
On top of saying yes to speaking opportunities for practice, you also need to practice out of the public eye. Get comfortable listening to yourself. Record yourself so you can see your strengths and weaknesses. Deliver practice speeches to family and friends, and ask them for constructive feedback.
4. Dress the part
If you want to be a professional speaker, look the part. This will build your confidence and also set the scene for your audience that you are GOOD before you even open your mouth. Make sure the outfit you are wearing is one that you feel comfortable and confident in.
5. Keep your slides minimal
Slides full of content gives the impression you are not confident in what you are speaking about. So keep them minimal, visual or none at all.
6. Stop saying um and er….
This is purely a result of nerves. Instead of saying um, er or another ‘tic’, be silent and think. Silence is a good thing and a great way to break up your talk.
7. Embrace the adrenalin
That feeling you get when you see the audience … your mouth gets dry, your heart races … this is normal. Everyone get it. It is adrenaline. Use it to your advantage. You want to hit that stage with excitement. Just take one deep breath in and go for gold.
If the adrenalin feels like it is too much, before you go on stage stand somewhere out of sight with your feet planted slightly wider than your shoulders, hour hands on your hips, and your head held high. Hold this pose for two minutes… science has shown that this confident physical stance actually increases the amount of testosterone produced in the brain, giving you even more confidence.
Corporate psychologists Davitt have also produced some great tips in the infographic below…
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