Why is public speaking a cakewalk for a few but the worst nightmare for the rest? For some, words flow freely without a stutter, with the perfect expression and intonation, and they never forget their speech. For so many others, however, the prospect of public speaking is petrifying.
Nowadays, in many, if not all professions, some amount of public speaking is necessary, whether to make a presentation, pitch ideas at a conference or even just to interact with people.
How To Improve Public Speaking
To create a lasting impression, it is essential that you must be a good speaker. "But, how?", you ask? There are a few steps you can take to prepare or improve your skills in public speaking:
1. Be well Prepared
When you've been given a chance to speak in public, more often than not, you would be familiar with the topic. And seemingly, a structure for the talk would take place in your head. What is important is for you to hold on to that structure. Write down a few points with the structure outline. Understand the points and what you're going to say for each one of them. If it helps, write it all down.
Find out ways for yourself to remember the outline and the points under the outline you've prepared. One way is to go to the venue ahead of time and choose certain objects in the background that would act as reminders for your points. Another way is mnemonics which help one remember huge pieces of information.
You can find out other ways to remember and prepare your topic. Doing this will make you feel confident about your abilities and knowledge, and help you speak publicly with ease.
2. Believe In Yourself
Being self-confident is the most basic yet the most important value one must have while working on public speaking. People often forget that if you’re the one giving the speech, you are the expert. There’s a reason you’ve been asked to speak, after all.
When you believe in yourself, when you're confident about yourself, it radiates in your body language. The way you walk in, the way your hands move, the way your expressions change, and the way your voice ebbs and flows, all of it is affected by how much you believe in yourself at the moment.
So before you go in front of the public, make sure you're dressed in comfortable but smart clothes, take a deep breath, do some facial exercises and vocal warmups, and repeat to yourself 'I got this'.
3. Interact With Your Audience
Once you're out there, you don’t have to be the only one doing the talking. Your audience is not there just to listen to you, but also to know you and learn from you.
Engage your audience with a few questions based on your topic of presentation. Let them as counter questions, keep them reeled into your presentation. The feedback you receive from the audience will help you better understand them and their perspectives.
Not only that, an engaged audience will give you the illusion of a one-on-one conversation which will also help you calm down your nerves and make it easier for you to present.
4. Take Right Pauses
Just because you memorized the speech, it doesn’t mean that you have to speak like a robot or sing like a rapper. It will only fail to arouse your audience's interest. Make sure you understand the context of the sentence, take the right pauses and incorporate a conversational tone. Also, make sure you do not mumble. Open your mouth and speak properly.
As mentioned earlier, here is where the vocal warmups will help. The way your voice is supposed to ebb and flow during a normal conversation, the same way but with a little bit more intensity, it is supposed to flow when you're speaking to an audience.
You know your speech, you know what it contains, but the audience doesn't. The right pauses not only allow your audience to stay engaged, but also allow them to take in what you have said, process it, and understand it. Only if the audience understands it would it be considered a good speech. Enunciate your words properly, incorporate the correct tone and deploy the pauses at the correct times.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
We've all heard "Practice makes perfect". Even if it doesn't make you perfect, it does make you better.
No matter how many speeches you've given, however big a crowd you've presented in front of, there's always scope for slip-ups and fumbling. And that's okay, we're all humans. But the only thing that'll allow you to get over these slip-ups and fumbles, and help you continue with your speech instead of freezing in front of people, is practice.
Keep on practicing even when you think you have mastered it. Take time to practice your public speaking skills in front of the mirror. Recording yourself while speaking will give you a clearer idea about areas you need to improve. Speak up at every opportunity to get. It could be at a wedding where you toast to the newlyweds, or a joke in front of a few friends who you are comfortable around, or any other opportunities. So keep practicing and before it hits you, you'd have already mastered the art of public speaking!
You know now how to be better at public speaking. Follow these extremely important tips to ace your next public speaking event. Practice a lot, be well-prepared, exude confidence, be comfortably yet smartly dressed, take a deep breath, and wow your audience. You got this.
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