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Public Speaking

Updated on December 11, 2013

Public Speaking - How to Speak Well in Public

Death or public speaking? Strangely enough, many people would choose death.

There are very few people who actually enjoy public speaking. But, in almost all our lives there comes a time when we are faced with having to give some kind of speech, a toast at a wedding, an acceptance speech, or maybe a presentation at work. By being prepared and organised this does not have to be a traumatic experience. You may even find that it was actually rather fun to be in the spotlight.

How To Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

Why Are Most People Afraid to Speak in Public?

Why are most people so afraid of public speaking?

The first thing to do is figure out what it is you are so afraid of? Being embarrassed? Not knowing your material? Boring your audience? Having people walk out?

Once you have identified what it is that you are so afraid of you can begin to start reprogramming yourself to conquer these fears.

No one has ever really died of embarrassment and everyone has been in that position. Remember the audience is not your enemy and most of them would be just as nervous as you are if they were the one on stage. They are there for a reason, they want to learn and hear what you have to say.

Focus on your topic and what it is that you are trying to communicate, not on how nervous and jittery you are. What you are saying is important and you are the expert.

Prepare yourself well, you should know your information front to back. Be ready to adjust or answer questions. If your audience is losing interest think on your feet. Ask a question. Draw your audience into your topic, make them feel included. The more you practice the better you will become at adjusting quickly.

If you know your topic well and you seem to be losing control, shorten your speech. Know which key points you have to get across and do so quickly. But never rush through your speech, you should not finish feeling as though you have run a marathon.

If you do lose your focus or train of thought refer to your notes. Keeps your notes short and concise. You do not have to write down every word. Most of the time the audience will not even realize that you have missed something. And do not apologise, it happens to everyone one, just keep going.

Almost everyone feels nervous before giving a speech but if you know your subject and talk to your audience you will survive.

Does the thought of making a speech terrify you?

The fear of public speaking is called glossophobia. It is one of the most common phobias that people can have. 75% of the population suffer from this fear in varying degrees. Are you one of them?

Are You Nervous About Speaking in Public?

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Writing the Speech

Alright you have to give a speech. The first thing to do is to recognise what your speech is supposed to achieve. Are you giving a toast at a wedding? Are you lecturing at a local group on conservation? Are you the parent of the day at your child's school.

The next step is to recognise who is the audience you are speaking to. You have to gear your words and phrasing to fit your audience. There is no point in talking about mathematical probabilities to a group of five year olds.

Now that you have these two points figured out, you can begin to plan your speech. Speeches are just like writing books or papers. You have to grab your audience at the start. Win them over or you will spend the rest of your time trying to draw them back.

Your introduction is key. Ask a question, tell an antidote but capture them. Introduce your topic, and state key points that you intend to discuss. Remember to keep your audience in mind when working out your introduction. Be certain that it is appropriate and interesting.

The body of your speech should cover all the points that you mentioned in your opening. Be sure not to repeat your self. Make sure that you edit your speech and use your words well. There is nothing worse than someone who repeats the same points over and over. Watch your audience. You can tell by their reactions if you are speaking too long. Nobody enjoys listening to lengthy long winded speeches. Get your point across as quickly as you can. This does not mean to rush your speaking, it means to edit what you are saying and keep it on track. You do not want to wander away from your topic. Know what points are the most important and what could possibly be left out if your audience is restless. Be ready to adapt your speech.

Have a conclusion. Sum up what you have said in a clear and concise fashion.

"The average person at a funeral would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy."

Jerry Seinfeld

Giving the Speech

The time has come to deliver your speech. How do you do it?

Do a dress rehearsal. Nothing can take the place of practice. Give your speech in front of friends or family. Feel comfortable. You know your topic, now you have to get the information across to an audience. Quite often friends or co-workers can tell you if certain things are too long or are not necessary.

Speak clearly and in a well modulated tone. Do not rush yourself, there is no prize for finishing first. Speak clearly do not mumble, people want to hear what you have to say.

Do not read to your audience talk to them. Referring to your notes is fine but remember you are using them as a reference not as a script. Make eye contact. Do not stare at one person in particular or look over them. Speak to them, shift your gaze around the group so everyone feels included.

Move! Don't hide behind the podium. Use appropriate gestures and move around if you can.

Use visual aids when you can. Be sure that you check that everything is in working order before you have to give your speech. Be prepared.

Watch your audience. You will know if you have their attention. Be prepared to adjust your speech if necessary. Have leading question prepared. Get them involved. Be ready to edit your speech if they are getting restless.

By being well prepared and ready to adapt and adjust , your speech should go off without a hitch. It will not be nearly as traumatic as you thought it would be.

Glossophobia: the fear of speaking in public

Tips on Public Speaking

Know your audience. You have to gear the information to the people who are going to be hearing it.

Practice. Use the old mirror technique. Try your speech on friends and co-workers.

Know your material. You are the expert during the time that you are speaking.

Ok, you are nervous. The audience does not need to know that. Look confident.

Use notes if you must, but make eye contact with your audience, remember you are talking to them. You are not reading them a story.

Focus on the information you are delivering. Be a teacher, it is not about how nervous you are but about teaching them what they need to know.

If possible know the room. Go early and see what the set up is like and what equipment you will be using. If possible practice using the actual equipment.

The Audience does not want you to fail. In almost all cases they are there to learn something. Teach them.

Join a group that offers a place to practice in comfort.

It's your speech, be yourself.

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    • LabKittyDesign profile image

      LabKittyDesign 7 years ago

      Great advice! We Lenrolled ya to our collection of speaking tips we gleaned from our days in academia.

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 7 years ago

      A great lens with some good tips. I think practice is the most important to lose fear of public speaking. Best might be to start with a smaller audience.

      It happend to me that the first time I was speaking in public was in front of about 30 people. God, I was nervous. Later on I even enjoyed talking in front of 100 or more.

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 7 years ago

      This is no lie, I took a communications course in college and when I found out my final grade was going to be part of doing a speech I quit the class. I lost all of that money and credits. I am not sure if it was fear but I hate with a passion being the center of attention and for me giving a speech or talking to a group would mean all of the attention would be on me. :0/ I know, excuse? Nah, really it is the truth. This is a good lens!!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Excellent. An informative lens and a great read too!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 9 years ago

      Helpful information. It is especially important to let people know that the audience is really on their side. This is so important. 5*

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 9 years ago

      Excellent tips and I love the images!!