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Want to Be a Better Speaker? Then do these five things.

Updated on November 6, 2016
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Sadie Holloway is a workshop facilitator who teaches interpersonal communication skills to help people strengthen their relationships.

If you want to be a better speaker, then be sure to do these five things when you give your speech.

If refeshments are being served at your meeting and you have to give a speech, avoid dairy products which can cause excess phlegm.
If refeshments are being served at your meeting and you have to give a speech, avoid dairy products which can cause excess phlegm. | Source

Are you someone who was born a naturally gifted public speaker? Congratulations! You are one of the lucky few! But if you are like most people, you struggle with a fear of speaking in public. Being asked to give a presentation at work makes you nervous. Asserting yourself in a meeting full of A-type personalities brings out your Inner Wallflower. Carrying on a conversation with someone you don’t know makes you shy away from big social occasions.

If you have a fear of getting up in front of an audience to share what’s on your mind, you’re in good company. In fact, many people won’t hesitate to admit that, just like you, they’re afraid of public speaking and will do anything to avoid being thrust into the spotlight. There’s even a name for the fear of public speaking: glossophobia. About 75% of the general population suffers from glossophobia.1

Becoming a better speaker takes a lifetime of practice. Your public speaking skills will grow and develop over time if you are willing to put yourself out there and take a few risks now and then.

But wait a minute! What if you have a special occasion or event coming up and you don’t have all the time in the world to hone your skills and lose your fear of speaking in front of an audience? What if you have to become a better speaker by next week? You've just found out you’ve got to give a presentation at work in front of the boss.

Have no fear. Start with the five things listed below before you give your speech presentation, and you’ll be on your way to boosting your confidence and becoming a better speaker!

1. Do your homework before you give your speech. Your audience is giving you their time and attention. Use that time wisely and show up fully prepared. Confidence comes from knowing that you’ve done everything you can to prepare yourself for your next big challenge. Take the time to fully craft your speech all the way from your bare bones outline to your polished final draft.

The unprepared speaker has a right to be afraid.

— Ralph Smedley, Founder of Toastmasters

2. Take care of your physiological needs before you go on stage. If you want to look and feel calm on stage, make sure that you treat your body well in the days and hours leading up to your presentation. Eat well. Get plenty of rest the night before your speech. Go outside; take in some fresh air. A bit of light exercise before your public appearance can improve your breathing pace which will help moderate the tone and speed of your speech.

Make sure you are properly hydrated before you give your speech. Sip water and avoid caffeine and dairy.
Make sure you are properly hydrated before you give your speech. Sip water and avoid caffeine and dairy.

3. Don't take yourself too seriously. One of the hallmarks of successful speakers is that they make everything they do look so natural and effortless. They appear to be in their element while they address their audience. People sense that there’s no place the speaker would rather be than telling the audience about the important issues they’ve come to learn about.

A good way to keep audiences interested in what you have to say is to add your own brand of light humour to your speech. Personalize it with self-effacing humor. Tell a funny anecdote that people can relate to. It’s a myth to think that levity and lightness should be cut out of serious speeches.

4. Don't undermine yourself during your speech. One of the worst things you can do when you're giving a speech isn't flubbing your lines; it’s drawing attention to the fact that you flubbed your lines. Stop making excuses during your speech. You are there for a reason. You have been invited to present your point of view. There's no need to apologize for minor mistakes.

5. Pay attention to your body language. Keep distracting movements to a minimum. When you’re speaking to an audience, it's important to be aware of the subtle messages your body is sending. Does your posture match the tone and intent of your words? Do you radiate energy and enthusiasm? Or do you look bored and aloof? Filming yourself while you practice your speech is a great way to assess how your body language, facial gestures and movements add to or detract from your speech.

Setting up a camera and filming yourself while you practice your speech is a great way to become a better speaker!
Setting up a camera and filming yourself while you practice your speech is a great way to become a better speaker!

In summary, people who are effective communicators take care of their health. They have good mind-body awareness and can effectively connect what they are saying with how they physically say it. They take the time to get to know their audience. They feel passionately about what they want to communicate and they're fully committed to helping their audience understand their message. Does that sound like something you can learn to do? Great! Then you’re well on your way to becoming a better speaker!

Footnotes: 1.

Image Credits:

© 2016 Sadie Holloway


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