Most people feel anxious and stressed when they have to deliver a speech in front of an audience. Some of them believe that public speaking is an innate skill, either you have or not.
According to some surveys and research, public speaking is ranked among the top fears, surpassing even the fear of death itself.
How can we overcome this fear, and how can we transform it into a positive energy?
I was the first one to experience this fear whenever I had to speak even in front of few people. I was always focused on what they may think about me instead of focusing on the message. My aim in this article is to share with you my strategies in overcoming this fear, and what enabled me to thrive as a speaker.
10 TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE PUBLIC SPEAKING
1. Choose a subject that you love
Always choose a subject that you are excited about, a subject that you believe in and that you already embrace. The impact will be rewarding as it will create coherence in your communication and build your credibility.
There are teachers or professors who teach accounting while they have never seen a real balance sheet or those lecturing about digital communication and social networks, while they don’t have any presence on social media. You cannot preach something and do otherwise.
This is also relevant for sales people who try to sell a product that they have never tried before or don’t believe in it. How can they make arguments or make people trust them?
2. Prepare your presentation
Before you start reflecting on the content and the structure of your presentation or speech, you need to be aware of the purpose of your presentation, if it is informative, motivational or aims persuasion; you need to know about your audience, their age, status and backgrounds; and the timing, set up for this presentation, will determine the depth of your content.
Your preparation should take into account these three aspects and aim mastery of both your content and your physiology. Keep your words and sentences simple and precise. The brain does not recognize sophisticated language. It learns faster when the message is simple.
People will remember only 7% of what you will present and 93% is about how you will make them feel. Public Speaking isn’t just about what you say; it’s also about how you say it. It is about your passion, your presence, your enthusiasm, your tone of voice, and the melody behind. Be prepared for all that.
3. Control your anxiety and stress
Your anxiety and fear are something that you can control easily when you are conscious of the physical reactions that you may experience in different ways like having a quivering voice, stomach cramps, or a dry voice. How can you handle them when you have to give a speech?
Most of your stress can be anticipated through repetition and practice. There is no magical formula but mastery and daily practice before the expected date can lessen your level of stress and control your anxiety.
Sometimes, stress can be the result of a lack of oxygen, always make regular pauses to breath and don’t forget to smile as a simple act of smiling can trigger positive neurotransmitters that can help you regulate your stress level.
4. Visualize your speech
Visualization or mental rehearsal is a powerful tool to develop your confidence. It proved to have a great impact on the achievements of our goals. It is used in public speaking to visualize your speech before the expected date.
Take 10 minutes everyday, choose a calm place, close your eyes and visualize your speech with all the details possible: your introduction, the audience, your non verbal, when you need to pause and your conclusion. This will create more chances of your success and enable you to go with a relaxed mind.
5. Use Metaphors and stories
You don’t make an impact by covering all the theories possible or presenting all kinds of data. You make an impact when you know how and when to incorporate metaphors and stories. It can be your own stories or stories about other people that are relevant to the subject. The purpose is not about the story itself but the learning behind it. The metaphors can also build your ideas with familiar language that everyone can understand.
You can look at the rhetoric of influence of Aristotle that I already talked about in my past articles which cover these aspects in details.
6. Master your non verbal communication
There are tones of books about this subject that can help you in details about all the non verbal cues that you need to embrace or avoid, especially in different cultural backgrounds.
There is one major thing to remember:
Be coherent with yourself, and make sure your acts reflect your thoughts.
This way, your non verbal communication will go smooth and create your credibility.
People can lie when speaking, but their unconscious non verbal cannot lie. Your body language can reveal easily your inner thoughts and intentions. They can tell a lot about you without being aware of it.
7. Be yourself
When you improve your ability to talk about yourself in a natural way, you will not only build more authenticity but you will also create more social influence as people will trust in you and in your capacities.
People who are unable to be themselves are often trying to hide their emotions, and pretend that they know it all. Being yourself is accepting that you are not perfect and that you can make mistakes. Embracing your thoughts and emotions can be powerful in creating your authentic self.
8. Let people talk about themselves
It is true that sometimes the nature of the speech may not allow it, but for me it is essential to create this interaction. You don’t need to speak or interact with everyone, but you can always invite one or two persons to share their perspectives, stories or their opinions.
These interactions can make the communication more appealing than maintaining a monologue which can make others feel detached and bored.
9. Be prepared for the unexpected
Not all presentations or speeches go as expected. Sometimes it may have nothing to do with you but a conflict within the audience may arise and it is your responsibility to control the situation to be able to carry on.
I experienced similar situations and my response had to be fast and adapted to the situation to avoid further misinterpretations. Remember, you cannot control the emotions of the others if you are unable to control yours. Emotional intelligence is key.
10. Get feedback
Peoples’ feedback is an important component of public speaking for two reasons: It gives you an idea of the general appreciation of the audience regarding your speech and it allows you to know how you can improve it in the future.
THE BENEFITS OF PUBLIC SPEAKING
Mastering the art of public speaking will help you develop a set of other qualities and skills:
· Your self-confidence will be improved
· Your ability to listen will get better
· You will have the possibility to meet new people
· You will get more connections and greater social influence
· You will develop more authenticity.
The success of your speech will not depend on the sophistication of the content or the language but it will depend on the number of hearts you touched.
Communication is more meaningful when it is simple and drives action.