“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
While Sir, Oliver Holmes was right in quoting the above statement, I can’t help but wonder how can we speak clearly and carve every word when the gut-wrenching stage fright is crushing every fibre of our being?
It might be a school presentation, a college debate or a presentation at work, the idea of addressing people on an open platform gives you Goosebumps, raises your anxiety level and at times shuts you down entirely.
Check out these tips to improve your public speaking skills:
- Planning is the most crucial phase:
Planning your speech is the most crucial part to ensure that you can address your audience effectively. Start preparing for it at least a week in advance. Here is what you need to do:
- Organize your resources and content
- Know your audience and understand what they want to hear
- Prepare your speech accordingly
- Practice it out
You can use the mirror for practicing the speech. It would allow you to judge your own performance and understand the areas you need to address. Additionally, it will give you the much-required dose of confidence.
- Attention grabber:
If you want the audience to actually be interested in your presentation you need to grab their attention from the very beginning. Opening with a joke or story, an incident or a fact can be a great attention grabber. It will help you to raise the curiosity level of your audience. Additionally, it is extremely important for you to exhibit the right emotions while giving your presentation.
- Be who you are:
Let your personality come through. You need to be yourself, rather than behaving like a machine who is just throwing facts and information in front of the audience. If you want your audience to actually listen to what you are saying then it is important for them to be able to relate to you. Bottom-line, you need to try and form a connection between yourself and the audience.
- Your body should reflect your confidence:
For your speech to be impressive, your body needs to exhibit confidence. Your posture, gestures, tone, annotation etc. all of these factors play a vital role in creating your image in front of the audience. What you can do is:
- Use positive gestures while communicating.
- Make eye contact with the audience.
- Crack a joke to break the ice.
- Control the flow of your voice, keep changing your pitch according to the requirement of the fact that you are presenting.
- Continuously search for Feedback and adapt to it:
The ability to adapt and improvise is all that you need to improve the quality of your speech. You need to continuously search for the feedback during the speech in the form of their emotions, facial expressions, and reactions to your facts. Understand and bridge the gap that is forming between your output and their expectations.
In the end:
Public speaking is all about creating an environment that is comfortable for both you and your audience. You need to continuously keep your audience on their toes and engaged. So, minimize your nervousness, scrub out your fear and get going.
Here are some to-dos for the day of the event:
- Check for the technical aspects like volume and clarity of the mic before beginning the actual content.
- Your physical appearance on the day of the speech matters a lot, it helps you set a positive image in front of the audience.
- Drink water in regular periods to ease out the stress flow.
- Always have a backup of your content.
- Ask questions actively and let the audience do the same, to keep them engaged.