Public speaking is a vital social skill. Anyone aspiring to lead in anything must learn the art. Despite this fact, many people dread talking in front of a crowd. Glossophobia, fear of public speaking, ranks among the most common fears. From profuse sweating to a dry mouth, the textbook symptoms of glossophobia are all too familiar. Luckily, public speaking is a learnable art. With adequate preparation and practice, you can improve the way you engage audiences. Here are some useful techniques that can transform you from a nervous presenter into a confident and competent public speaker.
Understand Your Mission
Every public presentation has a purpose. Understand both the occasion and the reason you will be speaking. Your speech may be meant to persuade, inspire, or just inform the audience. When you grasp this, you will structure your presentation towards your goal. You will also be psychologically prepared to sway your audience.
Know Your Information, Organize It and Simplify It
Do your research and find all the necessary information. Even when you are delivering a provided speech, read it well in advance and understand the content. Decide how you will give the message and what props, and aids you may utilize. You should also get familiar with the availed equipment, software, and other audio-visual aids. Make sure to anticipate questions from the audience. The more you understand your message and mode of delivery, the less nervous you shall be. All the same, avoid the temptation of overloading, and overwhelming your audience.
Get Familiar with the Location
Make sure to visit the venue of ahead of time. Visit the room, test the equipment, and visualize a successful presentation. When everything looks familiar, and your mind is ready, your body will relax, and you shall deliver.
Memorize Concepts, Not the Whole Speech
Many people are tempted to memorize the entire content. Word-for-word rehearsals make speakers sound unnatural. Things can also go wrong when you forget some of the remembered words. It works best to remember the gist of the speech. You can create some bullet points of the main ideas, or retain useful data and use them as a guide.
Practice and Watch Yourself
You can speak to an imaginary audience and watch yourself in a mirror. Pay attention to your voice and body language. You can also record your rehearsal and watch it privately or with someone whose opinion you can trust. A video playback of previous public speaking gigs can also come in handy. Ask for feedback and take into account your strengths and weaknesses.
Understand Your Audience and Chat Them up Before Time
If you are addressing a particular demographic, know their interests and preferences. It would be useful if you dress and talk appropriately. If you lose them before you open your mouth, you may never find them again. Chatting members of the audience before the presentation is also critical. It can warm the audience up to you and give you useful insight. Sharing with the audience something useful one of them told you before the presentation can work wonders.
Try to engage and involve your audience. Plan ahead of time and brainstorm fun ways to carry the audience with you. You can make them participate by asking them to repeat key messages back to you. You can also ask questions or ask them to give examples or ideas. As you speak, you must also make eye contact. The idea here is to talk with them and not to them.
Focus on Proper Breathing
The art of proper breathing is the key to mastering public speaking. Breathing calms down the speaker and gives vitality to the voice. You may want to learn how to breathe from your diaphragm. Excellent public speakers and musicians agree that breathing with the diaphragm is what colors and adds emotion to voices. As you stand to speak, take a deep belly breath and exhale slowly with your mouth. When you begin speaking, do not hold your breath. Inhale and exhale and you shall be okay.
Remember that about 75% of the world’s population struggle with public speaking. Even the most notable public speakers understand the struggle. Calm yourself down and be proud that you’ve been chosen to speak. Let your fear be your fuel, believe in yourself and imagine a happy ending. Focus on your message and your audience, and let your voice and your body unburden your mind.