Public speaking is one of the biggest fears for a lot of people worldwide. Even thinking about it can make their palms sweat. Personally, I, as a 13-year-old introverted boy, would have preferred fighting a snake than doing anything even remotely close to public speaking.
However, after hearing these 15 tips from an experienced public speaker, I realized that public speaking doesn't have to be a nightmare and that it's possible to tackle your anxiety and deliver a memorable speech.
1. Being Nervous Is Normal; Acknowledge That It Is.
Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a fascinating speech with eloquence and confidence, but that does not mean he wasn't nervous. After all, he was a human-being too. All human beings are prone to feelings of anxiety and self-doubt. Although, public speakers know how to avoid being submerged by these feelings.
Some people think sedating themselves with a small amount of alcohol is a good idea, but they don't realize that it ruins their true character and affects performance.
Just remember that a pounding heart and trembling hands don't mean you'll perform poorly. After all, a little adrenaline rush isn't bad at all. Far from it, it gives you more energy and improves your concentration.
2. Rehearse Over and Over Again
Practice relentlessly. If you have a big speech coming up, you must practice every day. Prepare the goals and the content ahead of time; Practicing a lot will help the speech become muscle memory.
To make it more effective, try practicing in front of your family or friends, as they will simulate the actual audience. You'll experience delivering your speech to someone other than yourself.
3. Truly Know Your Material
Sometimes, your intuition wrongly makes you believe that you know everything. Make sure that you actually know everything by heart.
4. Practice With Distractions
Unfortunately, not everybody is going to attentively and silently listen to your speech. So, you have to learn how to retain confidence and flow in a lot of noise.
Go to a cafe or turn on the TV when rehearsing; Make sure to use earbuds in the cafe, so people don't think you're crazy.
5. Get to Know Your Audience Beforehand
Different types of audiences prefer different types of approach: If you're addressing indifferent high schoolers, throw a few jokes here and there; If you're speaking towards young children, be sure to enunciate and use simpler words; If you're presenting towards college students, try to be as informative as possible.
6. Test the Equipment
You don't want to find out that the projector isn't working after starting the presentation.
Make sure to test all the equipment and audiovisual functions ahead of time. Additionally, consider having backups, just in case something goes awry.
7. Organize the Material, Summarize, and Write Down the Purpose
You go through all the slides and talk about the material. In the end, everyone forgets what the presentation is about, even you do!
If you relate to this, don't worry, there's a simple solution. Create a framework for your speech: Write down the topic, purpose, and summary.
Also, no one will want to listen to your presentation if it starts with you saying: "Today, I'm going to talk about this and that." Make the beginning more exciting. Try to get the audience's attention within 30 seconds.
8. Watch for Feedback; Be Flexible
Even when you know the audience to its fullest, the speech will not have a maximum impact if you don't improvise. Make a few adjustments based on reactions; try to adapt.
9. Use Your Personality
We are all emotional creatures; Some of us are irritable, while others are ecstatic.
It's finally the time to be yourself. Be eloquent in your emotions; Your audience will trust what you have to say if they can see you as an honest person.
10. Use Effective Language
Try your best to make the audience believe that you are not a lifeless robot: tell your personal stories, inject a funny anecdote here and there, be rhetorical. The audiences will feel a personal touch, which will make them internally connect with you.
11. Do Not Read if It Isn't Necessary To
Reading from a script will break any interpersonal connection you worked hard to build up.
Maintain strong eye contact with the audience; Keep the focus on yourself and your message. If you're prone to forgetting, make a brief outline in your text to remind yourself what comes next.
12. Use an Effective Body Language
Nonverbal communication is known to carry most of the message. Keep a good posture, keep your head up, and use open hand gestures; A strong body language conveys confidence.
13. Slow Down
Seriously, not all of us can think hastily. Not only that, racing through your presentation will make you more anxious, and the audience will have a hard time focusing on what you're trying to say. Instead, slow it down; You can even make short or long pauses if you have to.
14. Say Thank You When You Finish
The audience gave you their time, listened to you, and applauded. The very least you can do is be grateful and thank the audience.
15. Learn From Your Mistakes
All of us have experienced painfully embarrassing moments during a presentation. So, what's the best way to avoid having these mistakes happen again? Analyze the situation, where and when it went wrong, so you can change your approach and ensure the same thing doesn't happen again.
These are all the tips to help you master the art of public speaking. Hopefully, you've become enlightened after reading this article.