Public Speaking: Doing It Well

communication personal development public speaking Jul 07, 2022

Public speaking is one of the essential skills that you can have in your arsenal. It can be used to build relationships, land jobs, and advance your career. However, public speaking can also be a frightening experience for many people. This blog post will discuss some tips and strategies for doing public speaking well.

The fear of public speaking

Ask somebody what they fear the most, and there's a good chance public speaking may be one of them. It's pretty understandable, though. Public speaking is not an easy skill to master. You have to face a crowd while talking and ensure that you know what you are talking about; otherwise, everybody will have an opinion of you in their minds and affect your reputation. It's even more nerve-wracking for people who have social anxiety. The earliest public speaking experiences date back to when we are still in school. However, even back then, we could get nervous when we had to deliver a report or present something in front of classmates and the teacher.

Despite how fearful public speaking can be, it is still a vital skill to learn to help you succeed and go places in your life. Some jobs will require you to regularly speak or act in front of people, such as being an actor, school teacher, or somebody that needs to guide others with information, such as a guide or a trainer. Even if you are doing regular office work, there may come a time when you need to present in front of your coworkers, and that requires good public speaking skills. Outside of work, you may even need to do it, such as being invited as a speaker at a friend's wedding or having to say a testimony at someone's birthday. So it's only essential to learn to overcome any public speaking anxiety one may have and know how to do it properly as it can help in your career and personal growth. There are various public speaking tips to help you be more prepared as a public speaker.

1. Research the topic you are going to talk about

Before going to war, it's vital that one is well-prepared and possess all the necessary equipment and weapons to ensure one can fight properly. Okay, public speaking is not exactly a war, but the same essence applies. You will be able to deliver your speech better if you know what you have to say and are knowledgeable about the subject of your discourse. Back in school, we do research when we have to do a report, so come the day of the presentation, we know what we have to say. The same thing applies to public speaking later in one's life. Researching and understanding your topic equips you with more knowledge, so you can say more and be ready to answer if people ask questions from you. Learning about other related issues can also help if the speech and discussion deviate from the main subject.

2. Learn about the people that will listen to you

Before delivering your public speech, you will most likely have an idea of who your audience will be on the actual day of the presentation. You don't have to get to know each of them but get a good idea of the general knowledge level and interests of the people who will listen to you. If you have to talk in front of your coworkers, maybe you can relax more with your language and be more personal since you know them. Talking to children will require you to use easier-to-understand words and be more cheerful with your presentation, depending on the topic. On the other hand, delivering a public speech in front of people who belong to academia may require you to research more and be formal with your address since your audience will most likely be experts in their fields, and they may know more things than you.

3. Know about the purpose of your public speaking

It helps to understand what the purpose of your talk is going to be, so you can create the proper approach to your audience and adjust the tone of your speech depending on the intention of the public speaking you are going to make. For example, suppose you have to spread awareness and information about something. In that case, you can talk in a straightforward discussion style and narrate facts to your audience, describing various points of interest. But, on the other hand, if your speech is about motivation and positivity, you will need to be more inspiring and uplifting in your tone of voice to raise the optimism of your live audience. A casual presentation can let you ease up in your delivery and be more personal with the audience, especially if you know them personally.

4. Practice before the moment of truth

Public speaking can be an overwhelming experience. To improve your public speaking, practicing how you will deliver your speech and what words you will say can help immensely. Visualize the stage in your mind and act how you will stand and move while speaking. Practice the hand gestures you may have to make. Go over your notes and remember the structure of your speech. For better immersion, try inviting a friend or some people close to you to act as an audience. You get a feel of how it's like to speak in front of your audience while doing all the actions you are practicing, and you may know how they will react to everything you have practiced.

5. Take down notes

Being seen with an index card, a piece of paper, or a smartphone (by looking at notes) while presenting your speech might seem like a turn-off. It may cause the audience to lower their impressions of you. However, it doesn't hurt to be prepared and make essential summaries and bullet points of your speech on an index card or wherever you like to put your notes. Do not put out your notes all the time while speaking. Instead, bring them out only when you forget something about your speech. People will understand it, and no one has a perfect memory of everything. However, lapses can sometimes happen, and having some notes can aid you.

6. Don't speak like a robot

Narrating in your public speech as if you memorized everything word-for-word and delivering the statements as you read them on your materials can sound dull. It's like reading a book in front of people and saying it as it is the way you see them in the book. To add some flavor to your speech, try injecting your personality into the way you deliver your phrases and word usage. Use personal experiences, change the intonation according to your style, and don't say phrases verbatim. People can relate better to a public speaker who speaks like a person, not a machine.

7. Make the opening catch their attention

The opening part of your speech is the most critical. The first few seconds or minutes are what can dictate if your audience will listen to you or get bored and sleep in their seats. Like in an article, the opening paragraph must leave a good impression and catch the audience's attention. The same works in public speaking. Getting straight to the point and describing your talk may sound dull to the audience. Instead, try starting with a piece of recent news related to your speech, narrate a personal story relatable to the audience, or use humor to giddy up the audience. Once you get their attention, it will be easier to talk to the audience afterward. And don't forget to inject the same things you did in your opening at various points in your speech to ensure that the audience's attention is on you.

8. Don't just stand there

Listening to a public speaker who moves around while speaking feels more engaging. They may walk from one part of the stage to another, ensuring that the audience catches a glimpse of them while talking. Also, they may utilize various hand gestures to help amplify the points of what they are talking about in their speech. Facial expressions can also help complement the mood of your discourse. All these nonverbal means of communication can aid in improving your public speaking. Of course, there will be times when you don't have to move all the time. In cases where standing in one spot is preferable, do it confidently and maintain good posture. Try to make hand gestures while standing. However, if you have the option to move around, especially on a large stage, try doing it as it cannot only make the speech livelier but also help lessen your nervousness when you move around while talking.

9. Don't say "ah" or "um" too often

It's normal to hear someone say "ah," "um," or whatever word of pause while talking. It's okay if it's just a casual conversation with other people. However, during public speaking, these utterances can lessen your audience's confidence levels in you and can be a sign of nervousness and not knowing what to say. If one has to pause, do it without saying any of these words. Pauses are essential in that they help you catch your breath, slow down the pacing of your speech, and think about the next point of discussion. Audiences will also benefit because they can have some time to absorb what you have said. Well-timed pauses can make you a better public speaker, such as when you are about to talk about a new topic in your speech.

Polish your public speaking skills

Your public speaking skills are one of the things you can improve to achieve a successful career in your life. While your current job might not require you to do it, there may come the point where you have to speak in front of others, even outside of work. It's vital to be confident in your speech when such a time comes, and several things can help you improve your skills in public speaking. You can even watch videos nowadays of public speakers who excel at their craft, such as people who do TED talks. Of course, public speaking takes practice and effort to master, but once you do, you gain a greater power to convince others through your speech and get your point across with greater confidence.

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