Personality Development: How to Excel in Public Speaking
Public speaking is the act of speaking to a group of people. When one-on-one communication will not be an effective way to communicate your message, you may have to use public speaking.
It is important to be a good public speaker in order to succeed in today’s world. Great leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Winston Churchill were excellent public speakers.
Public speaking skills help people belonging to all professions. You may be a teacher addressing your students, a corporate executive delivering a presentation, a government employee or a social worker addressing the masses, public speaking skills will help you. It is definitely advisable to enhance your public speaking skills.
Here are some tips that will help you immensely in becoming an accomplished public speaker.
Begin by Thanking
Attitude of gratitude wins hearts. Begin your speech by thanking the host and the audience. Thank the audience for finding time to attend the session.
Know Your Subject
It is very important to know your subject. Avoid winging. When you are addressing a group of people, you should be prepared to answer questions. If you are found wanting for answers, you will lose your credibility. Spend time on studying the subject. Anticipate questions and be prepared with answers. Speak in conversational language.
Know Your Audience
Know who you are addressing. This will help you to speak their language. If you are addressing a group of high school graduates, you should not be speaking about retirement destinations. It is a good idea to greet some members of the audience as they arrive. It is easier to address friends than to total strangers.
It you know about the group beforehand, prepare appropriately. If you are addressing your colleagues, they may be expecting to know from you. If you are addressing students, they may be looking forward to learn form you and to be motivated. If you are delivering a presentation to your prospective customers, you focus should be to convince them. If you are addressing your friends, they definitely expect some entertainment. Here you may have to include humor. Preparation is the key to success. Knowing your audience will help you immensely in preparing yourself for the event.
Have you addressed a gathering?
The better you appear, the more ready, confident and professional you will feel. You will be in the limelight. It is definitely advisable to look your best. Avoid consuming alcohol or smoking before the event.
Don’t Worry About Nervousness
A little nervousness is good. It is an indication that you want everything to go well. But if it is excessive, then it is a problem. Visualize yourself delivering the lecture, with confident, loud and clear voice. You may also visualize your audience clapping. This will boost your confidence.
Just take a deep breath and begin. It is important to just relax. Use pauses. Have a smile on your face. Transform your nervous energy into enthusiasm. It is important to note that people want you to succeed. Not all members of the audience are hecklers. People look forward to listening to interesting, informative, stimulating and entertaining speech from you. If you can give them that, you will succeed.
It is important to seek perfection. Successful people are their own critics. But it definitely does not make sense to imprison yourself by overdoing it. Prepare well and go about your job with confidence.
I used to be incredibly afraid of public speaking. I started with five people, then I'd speak to 10 people. I made it up to 75 people, up to 100, and now I can speak to a very large group, and it feels similar to speaking to you one-on-one.— Robin S. Sharma
Negative thinking will push you down the dumps. It is all in the mind. If you think you will succeed, you will succeed. If you think you will fail, you will fail. It is as simple as that. So it definitely makes sense that you will be great and that your audience will benefit from your speech.
Be Familiar With the Venue
It is advisable to come early to the venue. Be familiar with the speaking area. Test the equipment and ensure that they are all working fine. Practice using the microphone and other aids. Check the specs of the room or hall.
Get the Attention of Your Audience
The key is the first few minutes. It is advisable to put forth your big point right away. Begin your address with your funniest joke, your best story, your guiding theory, anything to grab your audience’s attention.
Respect Your Audience
Usually you will not be presenting your ideas to people you are comfortable with. However, it is important to find a common ground and to put your love there. Humor, used with wisdom; and politeness will help you immensely.
Engage Your Audience
Try to make your speech engaging. It is very important to hold your audience’s interest. Involve your audience in the event through thought-provoking questions. Use wit and humor.
Do Not Admit to Fatigue
Even if you are genuinely tired, do not tell the audience. It is a major turn off to the audience. Some sensitive members of the audience may also feel guilty for giving you the trouble of speaking to them. Whatever may be your physical or mental state, you need to put a smile on your face and get on with the job.
Do Not Apologize
While addressing a group, people look up to you. They seek to learn from you. They see you as an authority on the subject. Do not put yourself down by apologizing unnecessary. People will be turned off. If there are any minor problems or nervousness related issues; people may never notice. So avoid statements like “I am sorry that you had to wait. I was held up in traffic”, “I apologize for this technical snag”, etc. Just be focused and confident. Keep going.
Stay focused on the content and the audience. Just forget yourself. Do not bother about your nervousness, anxiety, etc. They will soon vanish anyway. Be focused on implementing your plan.
Watch Your Rate of Speech
Be conscious of your rate of speech. Are you speaking too fast? Or is the delivery too slow? It is advisable to adhere to normal pace. It is ok if you speak a little slower. Never speak very fast. It is an indicator of your nervousness. Worst part is that people will not understand what you are saying. It is important to speak slowly when you are dealing with a tough subject, or when you are emphasizing a point.
Plan Your Conclusion
Expert public speakers usually leave on a high note. It is always a good idea to save some excellent stuff for conclusion.
Learn From Expert Public Speakers
Watch speeches of successful public speakers. Many are available on websites like YouTube. Read their speeches in books. Observe their styles; make notes. Try to incorporate them while you practice.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The saying “Practice makes a man perfect” is 100 percent true when it comes to public speaking. It is advisable to rehearse out loud with all the equipment you intend to use. Revise in case of need. Be prepared with filler words. Practice enhances your confidence immensely. User a timer while practicing, allowing time for questions and other unexpected events.
If there were a list of human beings’ great fears, public speaking would be right on the tops. The above-mentioned tips, if practiced sincerely, will remove this fear and transform you into a public speaking expert.
If you're not comfortable with public speaking - and nobody starts out comfortable; you have to learn how to be comfortable - practice. I cannot overstate the importance of practicing. Get some close friends or family members to help evaluate you, or somebody at work that you trust.— Hillary Clinton
Top 10 great speeches (compiled by Time)
4th century B.C
"The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways - I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows."
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! - I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
The Hypocrisy of American Slavery
"Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future."
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
Susan B. Anthony
Women's Rights to the Suffrage
"It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people - women as well as men."
Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat
"You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war; by sea, land and air; with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalog of human crime. That is our policy."
John F. Kennedy
"My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
I Have a Dream
"We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy."
Lyndon B. Johnson
The American Promise
"There is no moral issue. It is wrong - deadly wrong - to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of States rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights. I have not the slightest doubt what will be your answer."
Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
- Public speaking can be learnt.
- Know your subject and the audience.
- It is okay to be a little nervous before the event.
- Be positive.
- Engage your audience.
- Learn from public speakers.
- Practice, practice, practice.
We don't always have an accurate view of our own potential. I think most people who are frightened of public speaking and can't imagine they might feel different as a result of training. Don't assume you know how much potential you have. Sometimes the only way to know what you can do is to test yourself.— Scott Adams