For a number of people, the thought of public speaking is enough to upset and unsettle their insides. Nevertheless, public speaking is one of those skills that need to be developed because of its inevitable use at certain points in our lives and careers.
Here are five ways to improve on your public speaking skills.
- UNDERSTAND THE MESSAGE OF YOUR SPEECH
It is important to understand the message your speech is trying to pass across. Try to relate the message of your speech to a personal experience or something close enough to drive the message home to you.
When you understand the message of your speech, it makes delivering it much easier because if you forget one or two things, you can easily fill the gaps with the right alternatives. Remember that one of the worst things you can do in public speaking is to cram the content of your speech without trying to understand it. Cramming rather than understanding your speech increases stress and anxiety over delivering the speech, impairing your ability to concentrate and deliver your speech well.
Please don’t let the moment you deliver your speech be the first time you have ever done so. It is important to practice before hand and perfect the art of your speech delivery. Every speech has a way it should be delivered, and you need to understand this and go a step further to personalize the style of this delivery so it is more authentic and thus more effective. This can only be done in the place of practice.
You should take note that practice is not advised to give you time to perfect the cramming of the words of your speech, but to give you time to understand the message of your speech, discern the best style of delivery for the speech and tailor this style to suit your personality, strengths and abilities.
3. CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE
This should be done alongside understanding your speech and practicing to be perfect. This very important step should be kept in mind from the very beginning of your public speaking preparation.
Firstly, your speech – its content and message – should be relevant to your audience and something they can relate to. When you are done with the speech (if it is written by you), the next step is to consider your audience in preparing to give the speech. Consider what style of delivery will appeal to them (alongside the style of delivery that suits your speech type). Equally in personalizing the style of your speech delivery, you should also consider what will agree with or be offensive to your audience.
In all, consider your audience at every stage because in the end your speech is about them not you. Learn as much about them as you can and use the information to deliver a speech that will be effective and memorable.
4. REMEMBER YOUR GESTURES
Liven up your speech delivery with gestures that communicate confidence. You really don’t have to feel confident to use them – that’s the beauty of gestures. All you need to know are the right gestures to make at the right periods and you are good. The interesting thing is, most times in the course of making these gestures, you are likely to get comfortable and actually relax as opposed to when you are standing stiff and staring down the audience.
An important thing to remember here is that the appropriate gestures for your voice, hands and even legs (in terms of walking from one point to another as you give your speech) are things that can be learnt. A visit to YouTube to see the many videos on this can help you. You can also consider hiring a public speaking coach, if you have the money to spare. Once these gestures, alongside how and when to use them are learnt, it will make the public speaking exercise easier for you and eliminate the possibility of overdoing or misusing these gestures.
5. ACCEPT AND MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR EMOTIONS
The truth is, the nervous feeling might never go away, no matter what you do. It helps to accept this and do it anyway. Don’t waste time, energy and emotions hoping you stop feeling nervous, your hands and voice stops shaking or your knees stop buckling. Instead, learn the gestures, actions and reactions that can help you mask your visible cues of nervousness. As for your emotions, just remember that the fact that you feel nervous is known only to you, you don’t have to show it to the world.
Make peace with the nervous feeling, know that you can even joke about your nervousness in the course of your speech (if you consider yourself someone with a good sense of humour) and go on to deliver a great speech.