At some point in their lives, it is likely that everyone will be required to speak to a small or large audience. From hosting events to making presentations in school or college, public speaking forms an essential part of an individual’s life. Apart from this, the need for public speaking can arise in our day-to-day lives, be it speaking at a family event or maybe speaking at a debating competition or for a class assignment.
Often people are afraid of speaking in public and it is said that the fear of public speaking in some people outstands the fear of death! We think that the audience judges us by the way we speak which is why public speaking leaves a person anxious and nervous. However, this fear can be overcome with different techniques and regular practice.
Importance of public speaking
Public speaking is one of those things which, if you can master it, will make your life much easier and will make you a confident person in any field.
It will help you gain preference over others in a competitive environment. Public speaking also involves good communication and persuasion skills which are highly valued in all areas.
Improving your public speaking skills can boost your self-confidence. You can put your points forward clearly and quickly, and inform, motivate and win over an audience.
Leadership skills are also greatly reflected in a good public speaker.
Strategies to improve public speaking skills
1. Prepare thoroughly
The first step is to be dear about what you want to speak about and what points you want to focus on. It is important to prepare your speech with clarity of thought because if you don’t understand it, your audience won’t either. Preparation includes structuring the speech and identifying points of interest to the target audience.
2. Watch videos of good speakers
Many videos by great speakers can be found online. Watch them and you will notice their strategies, ways of speaking and what makes them good speakers. It will help you to know where to pause and how to win the attention of the audience.
Former U.S. President Barrack Obama, Dananjaya Hettiarachchi (winner of the public speaking championship), Dr. Vivek Bindra, Sandeep Maheshwari are a few noteworthy speakers. You can also check out the TedX channel on YouTube more great speakers.
3. Practice is the key
Any is incomplete without practice including public speaking. Make sure to practice in front of the mirror. It will help you to focus on your hand movements and you can introspect yourself. Also practice in front of your family and friends to get rid of the nervousness and they can honestly give their opinions.
4. Start strong
The beginning of your speech should be the most powerful because it forms the basis of what you will talk about further. It informs the audience about what they are likely to hear ahead. It should be creative and strong to keep them interested throughout.
5. Focus on your audience
It is very important to know your audience, their preferences, age group and their reason for being present there. Once you understand this, you can structure your speech based on what will interest your audience.
6. Engage your audience
Nothing captures the attention of people more than an engaging conversation. Keep them involved by asking questions and giving them a chance to speak and put forth their views. This will keep them alert and interested throughout your talk.
7. Body language
While speaking it is important to maintain a positive body language with a straight back and upright shoulders, which shows that you are confident. Maintaining eye contact is also a crucial way to communicate with the audience and to show that you know your subject well.
8. Proper pauses
Speaking with proper pauses can have a great impact on the audience. It is a great way to make the content strong and motivational. Take it slow and pause often. Talking fast will make you look nervous and cause fumbles.
9. Articulate clearly
While speaking in front of an audience ensure that your words are loud and clear for people to hear and understand. Those who have poor pronunciation and can’t articulate clearly, can look up facial exercises on the internet which help in clear pronunciation of words.
10. Relax and breathe
Before starting, it is important to relax your muscles and take a deep breath to avoid anxiety. If possible try to meditate for at least five minutes before you speak. It will calm your nervousness and help you focus on the audience rather than the stress.
Through these strategies and practice, you can master the art of public speaking even though it looks tough in the beginning. The best public speakers in the history of the world faced many problems at the start but with perseverance and practice they went on to become the best.