Some people tend to have a knack for public speaking when they are in front of a crowd or a microphone, giving a toast or a speech. Others tend to feel this existential dread whenever they’re in the same position, wanting nothing less than to run away screaming. Luckily, you don’t have to be the latter, but you can be the former with some help and experience. Let’s cover what you can do to make yourself a better public speaker:
Be OK With Feeling Nervous
Even the most socially savvy people out there tend to get the jitters from time to time. Feeling shy and nervous are completely normal feelings, not a personality trait hardwired into your psyche. We eventually face such feelings when we’re in situations that make us feel uncomfortable.
Put the Audience First.
Remember, the point of giving a speech, toast or presentation is to communicate a message to your audience. A good speaker cares about their audience and wants to feel what they need and how they can help them with what they’re saying. This isn’t about you, but about them. You need to give yourself to your audience, meaning you can’t spend time being too self-conscious.
It would be best if you took the time to figure out the ideal way to tailor your message to your audience. What optimal approach will keep their attention and resonate with their minds? It would help if you thought of a strong opener immediately catching their attention. Crafting a thoughtful conclusion will also help listeners remember the key points you talked about throughout your speech.
Preparing for less formal conversations, such as dinner parties with neighbours or a networking event at work, is different from preparing for a formal speech. Planning is still the way to go, however. Think about possible points you may want to make about a project at work before you meet with the audience; it should give you the confidence boost you need to stay calm and collected. Knowing a bit more about your party guests before you speak will make it much easier to land any conversations you’re engaged in.
Outline But Don’t Script
You’re speaking to your audience in the most direct way possible. If you can, you should outline what you plan on saying rather than writing out your speech word-for-word. This will allow you to feel more natural when you speak, letting your voice be your own and allowing for easier eye contact. Not reading your speech from a script will make you look and feel more authentic and natural, confident in your abilities. It shows that you know what you’re talking about by heart.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Nobody enjoys repetition ad nauseam, but it is necessary if you want to become an excellent public speaker. This is most often the solution to solving the issue of nerves acting up. Practising your speech out loud will allow you to feel and hear how it comes out of your mouth. With the feedback of a friend, coworker or family member, you can get some much-needed perspective. It will take some patience, but in the end, you will be better off for it.
Learn to Listen.
Whether or not you’re talking one on one or in front of thousands of people, communication is a two-way activity. Both parties have to be engaged for things to be truly memorable. When you’re trying to engage your listeners in less formal settings, good communicators listen to what others say before answering questions and then add their spin on things.