Talking comes naturally to all human beings, but doing it before a crowd never ceases to be challenging. The thought of addressing an audience is enough to give anyone the jitters, and the desire to receive a positive response just adds to the pressure.
To combat this daunting task, it’s essential to build self-confidence by concentrating on your work and honing your public speaking skills before it leaves you discomfited.
Whether it is a big presentation, hosting an event, or simply sharing ideas in a meeting, there has always been a constant misconception that public speaking is difficult. However, what I want you to think about is this — “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
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If you think there's no way you can do it, the below given steps will help you perfect your public speaking skills so you can give your best shot at the next speech or presentation.
Every influential speaker has a signature move that makes him/her stand out. So before you start presenting, make sure to listen to a few famous speeches by prominent public speakers like Tobin Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and Ken Robinson, to name a few. TED talks are another good platform to observe public speakers. Now think about what kind of speaker you want to become. Jot down your goals and start working on them, starting from today!
Do your research and find out the points of interest that would add value to your speech or presentation. Make sure you cite reasons and back your thoughts with case studies to be able to gain the trust of your audience. Pen down the highlights of your speech and prepare your pitch around them. Try incorporating real-life experiences or lessons so that the audience can relate to you.
If this is your first time, you might want to keep it simple. Public speakers are often tempted to use fancy words, but you should beware of them because they only serve to confuse listeners. Using simple and relevant words not only make your life easier, but also help hold a listener’s attention. Remember, your listeners will only hear you out if they are able to relate to your presentation.
Once you have a final copy, read it aloud to practise the right pace of delivery and voice modulation. You can make use of digital apps to monitor your speech delivery. This will also help you work on bettering your pronunciation of difficult words. Practising your speech in front of the mirror is a good way to boost confidence and improve body language. Later, perform before your friends or family and use their real-time suggestions to make further improvements.
Categorise your speech into different sections to make remembering it easier. Break down the content into categories and remember the highlights. Since this is your speech, you can always make a few amendments during the presentation even if you forget a few sentences. Remember, all you need to remember is the gist of each section.
Can you envision yourself giving an impeccable speech at an event? If you can’t yet, it’s time to start — do it once before you sleep, and immediately after you wake up. It has been scientifically proven that the power of visualisation trains your mind to evoke the personality that you envision. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, one of the most famous public speakers in the world, “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe”. It will be helpful to rehearse your speech visually as you plant the seed of success in your subconscious mind, ensuring that it becomes a possibility for your conscious mind.
Even if you don’t feel self-assured, go with the old catchphrase and fake it ‘til you make it. Confident and appealing personalities invoke positive responses among listeners. No matter how short your talk might be, an amalgamation of positivity and confidence will always work to your benefit.
There are certain ways to build a connection with the audience through your speech so that they comprehend your words and expressions well. Besides maintaining eye contact, take pauses between your talk to emphasise points or raise questions. Try to engage with your audience during your talks to ensure they remain interested. Repeat statements which need emphasis.
In the end, the thought of speaking before a huge crowd can automatically trigger fear. However, there has to come a point when you decide to let go and take the plunge. Just remember — the most talented speakers also had to start somewhere. Ultimately, you have to realise that not trying is the worst thing you can do, so practise, and practise some more.