Public speaking has always been a challenge for me. However, challenges are good. I have set myself a goal to practice-practice-practice and learn to get better. First thing I learned – most people fear public speaking. Even the ones who seem perfect at it! Eric Edmeades said it is #1 fear in the world (death was #3). I am not sure where does his statistics come from, but all the studies show that most people feel anxiety before public speaking.
Here are some tricks I have learned:
- Mark Twain: “The best and most telling speech is not the actual impromptu one, but the counterfeit of it … that speech is most worth listening to which has been carefully prepared in private and tried on a plaster cast, or an empty chair, or any other appreciative object that will keep quiet, until the speaker has got his matter and his delivery limbered up so that they will seem impromptu to an audience.” I did learn that the best public speakers take a lot of time to prepare their speeches. They think things through, they practice out loud, they improve…until it is excellent. It is not natural talent, it is hard work.
- Tell stories. Everyone has stories from life. Keep them in a notebook, tag and organize them and tell them. Everything that evokes an emotion is a story. Show the emotion. The bigger the fear, the stronger you actually wish to share your story.
- Excited and nervous are similar emotions with same physical symptoms. The only thing that differs is that nervousness is with negative expectation. So, all you need to do, is add positive expectations and you turn nervousness into excitement.
- At least half of your effort should go on first slides (F15) – introducing yourself and your presentation’s goal.
- Use Speech Map – a mindmap for organizing your stories and points you want to make.
- Change your tone during the speech/lecture so that it would fit different people – from deep and thoughtful to loud and exciting.
- Create interaction with the listeners. Ask questions, play games etc.
- Use simple words. Work on your wordings (KISS). Be close to your listeners. Do pauses.
- Be present.
- Leave time for questions and answers.
Doesn’t seem too hard, does it?