When it comes to public speaking, all your efforts should concentrate on one simple component.
Communicating your ideas clearly and presenting them openly in a public forum is an essential component of success across several domains of life. Being able to send your message across in an effective manner can help you at work, to grow your business and even in your personal life. Public speaking can always help you get to that level.
The fear of public speaking or Glossophobia, in geeky terms, is a fear that is very common among most of us. For some, the fear is manageable while others just can’t stand it. Either way, giving up is not an option for most of us. Even if someone is in a highly technical job that requires minimal human interactions, the working environment changes as you go up the co-operate ladder.
The way each person should tackle the fear of public speaking differs for each individual. As a compere and a toastmaster, I have mentored all sorts of individuals who are in different stages in their battle to become better communicators. The level of understanding you should have depends on the confidence and talent grown over time through practice. Therefore, the tips that might benefit an elite speaker might not help a novice speaker at all. In fact, there are cases where such tips act against the speaker.
This story is dedicated to people who consider themselves absolute beginners to public speaking. For people who rather die before delivering a speech to a huge audience. Not only that, if you are a speaker with some moderate confidence, seen if you can relate to the following techniques.
Before starting off with the tips, I’d like to point out a simple fact that will help you simplify and clearly focus all your energy. That is, non-other than confidence. When you deliver a speech or even present at a meeting, your performance finally drills down to confidence. One might argue that there are other factors too. But, throughout the article, I will show how everything else finally ads up to your confidence.
Plan Your Speech.
The first step of any speaker should be to gather the content and plan how you are going to deliver it. This is the part where all your hard work comes down to. If you are presenting, you should have enough content to present. Then only you can create a meaningful presentation. If you are supposed to share your monthly work, and you have nothing to show because you couldn’t get any work done, your presentation skills are not enough to help you.
Therefore gather all the details, put them in order, and create a neat flow. This is the stage where a presentation tool like PowerPoint can help you. Organize the content you want to deliver in slides. This stage is over 60% of your speech. Therefore make sure you spend enough time on this. Especially if you are new to speaking. Ones you pass this stage and move on with the speech, it would become a mess if you have to make alterations to the structure. That is why you should take extra time to make sure you are in line and confidant with what you want in your speech.
The way I approach this stage is unique to me, it could change from person to person. But try to always have a very rough sketch first, of the whole speech, and then move into finer details. If you try to get all the content in on the first go itself, you might end up getting confused. Just take a note pad or some sticky notes and write down exactly what you want to say. Then, dig deeper into each of those to create the complete structure.
Write the Speech
This might feel a bit insignificant. You might think that writing the whole speech down is kind of out of date. But, this is something even the best speakers practice. You have to write your speech down. Writing down every word of the speech can help you with the delivery in a few different ways.
First, it lets you create a flow. We write way slower compared to the speed we speak. Therefore, you get extra time to think of the perfect word that would help you in every sentence. This can improve both the flow and the clarity of the speech. Also, when you have the speech written, it is easier to spot the mistakes you make.
Secondly, writing the speech is a powerful way to get the speech deep inside you. In most cases what you talk might not be something very close to your heart. In such instances writing it by yourself will bring out the essence you to the speech which will make it more personal. When the speech is personal, you always build more confidence in it.
I cannot exaggerate this enough! The practice is the only way to make you a better speaker. However, the way you practice a speech will vary apron the level you are in. As an absolute beginner, my suggestion is to study every single word of your speech by heart. Give the speech all the time it requires, but make sure you can deliver the speech like reciting a nursery rhyme. This will take a significant amount of time. But if you are terrified of public speaking, forgetting the lines is the last thing you want to experience. Keeping notes will not help you unless you are comfortable with what you are doing.
Sometimes when you drive back home from work, you may wonder how you got there. Your mind went everywhere on that journey. Still, you managed to get home without even thinking about it. You need to apply the same principle when doing a speech. In a state of panic, you can focus only on one thing. That is your speech. As soon as your mind wanders somewhere else, your speech might lose track. This is why you need to make your speech is a part of yourself. Make sure that the speech will go ahead even if your mind wanders.
First, get the whole speech into your memory. That is only the first step. Then, practice it with a variation. Apply different vocal variations and pauses for more effective delivery. Imagine the real scenario in your mind and present. Try to get some audience in, and do a mock run. Record your speech, and listen. Make changes to your tone. Be creative and invent more methods to practice. Comment below if you have more effective methods of practicing.
The main reason why you need to do all the above is quite straight forward. You simulate all the possible ways the speech could go wrong and try to get used to them so that you won’t get any surprises. The more scenarios you run through, the more confidant you get.
Don’t make last-minute changes.
This advice might not be valid to more experienced speakers. But if you are freaking out as the time for your presentation approaches, try to avoid any last-minute changes at any cost. We spend so much time at the practice stage to make sure that everything runs smoothly. A change now can ruin all of that. This is why I said the initial planning requires a lot of attention. If you paid enough attention to that stage the chances of a last-minute change is very minimal.
But there could be some unavoidable reason where you have no choice but to make a change. In such a case, try to make the change without harming the structure of the speech. Maybe you can add a new segment or change only a small portion of the speech. Always try to add or replace a part without taking the whole structure down.
Now if you followed the way I suggested, you are delivering a hardcoded speech. In such an instance, you should not try to improvise under any circumstance. You might get tempted to deviate from the speech for numerous reasons. But as soon as you do that, the flow might collapse.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that improvising is bad. But it requires a different level of confidence to smoothly deliver an improvisation. As a growing speaker that is what you should thrive for. But as of now, let’s get this speech done and gain more confidence through successfully completing it.
In case you really feel like improvising, try not to overdo it. If it’s a joke, just pass it short and sweet and move on with the speech. Maybe it could be a question raised by the audience. Try to quickly answer and move on. If the answer requires elaboration, politely ask them to wait till you are done with your part. I suggest you don’t take questions in the middle of the speech. Instead, you can ask them to raise them after you are done.
What I shared above are some tips for absolute beginners. As you grow as an orator, how you prepare might change. But in all scenarios, what you need to pay attention to is to see if you are taking steps to increase your confidence levels. As long as you are confident as a speaker in all the aspects, there is no way your speech could go south.
If you are someone who already passed this stage, and now a better speaker. Share your experience below so that others can get some tips off them too.