What is public speaking?
Public speaking is the act of delivering a speech or presentation to a live audience. It is a form of communication that involves conveying information, ideas, or opinions to a group of people clearly and effectively. Public speaking has moved from traditional methods to any form of speaking in front of live audiences using digital technologies. It is not just restricted to speeches; it has emerged as one of the qualities employers look for in potential employees. It is essential in the fields of education, politics, entertainment, and much more. Public speaking requires preparation, practice, and confidence, as well as effective use of body language, vocal delivery, and visual aids to engage and connect with the audience.
Just the thought of having to get on stage inspires anxiety-fueled questions such as:
What if the audience doesn’t like my speech?
What do I do if I get on stage and my mind completely blanks because I’m so nervous?
What if I look awkward on stage?
Nearly 70 percent of people all over the world stated that they’re "afraid or fear" public speaking, also known as glossophobia. This fear is so widely accepted that many scientists researching stress induce anxiety by asking study participants to give a speech.
Most fears about public speaking stem from our fear of being judged. We are so scared of being criticized that we forget we have the power to share a message. I want to share with you how to captivate an audience so you can conquer your public speaking fears and get your message across. Let’s dive into the research-backed public speaking tips, so you have the confidence to get on stage and master your stage presence.
Types of Public Speaking
Public speaking is a form of communication with the audience.
Here are some of the types of public speaking:
- An informative speech conveys accurate information to the audience in a way that is clear and that keeps the listener interested in the topic. Achieving all three of these goals—accuracy, clarity, and interest—is the key to your effectiveness as a speaker.
A lecture given by a teacher in a high school or college class is an example of an informative oration. A manager in a retail store giving a presentation to the team about how to explain a new product line to customers would also be an example of an informative speech.
Persuasive speaking seeks to influence the beliefs, attitudes, values, or behavior of an audience. To persuade, a speaker has to construct arguments that appeal to audience members. Arguments form around three components: claim, evidence, and warrant.
Act of influencing someone to do something or change their mind. For example, good salespeople use persuasion to get people to buy things, just as children use persuasion to ask permission to do particular things.
A motivational speech is a public speech planned to inspire an audience to make a change in their lives. It usually has a clear purpose, a personal story written for a specific audience, and a conclusion that invites action.
"Believe in yourself and your abilities, and you can achieve anything you set your mind to." motivational speaker Tony Robbins
"Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts." Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill
Ceremonial speaking is a formal type of public speaking used at important events and ceremonies to recognize and honor individuals or groups.
It includes speeches at graduations, awards ceremonies, weddings, or funerals.
Tips and Tricks for Public Speaking
- Preparation is key to understanding your audience. Before you start writing your speech, take time to research and understand your audience. Define your purpose and goals clearly in your speech. Choose an effective language to give a speech. Practice your speech several times, both in front of the mirror and with a trusted friend. Pay attention to your tone, pacing, and nonverbal communication.
Know Your Audience Your Speech Is About Them, Not You:
- As speakers, we tend to focus so much on content and delivery that we forget one of the most important elements that help make our speech truly effective—the audience. If we don’t keep our audience in mind while writing and preparing for the speech, even if the content and delivery are superb, the speech's overall impact will fall flat. Before writing your speech, ask yourself this question: Why would the audience care about my message?
- But it’s surprising how many times I have seen speakers give great speeches that are completely out of context for their audience. Every speech needs to be designed to communicate a particular message to a particular audience. No message can appeal to your audience.
Use a Sparkline:
- Spark-lines aren’t just the secret sauce of great speech. They are also the foundation for designing powerful strategic speeches. Strategic speeches are creative, collaborative problem-solving sessions focused on tackling a messy, open-ended challenge. You might know what your "call to action" is in the context of the speech to build understanding, generate real choices, or make a critical decision. Each one of those landing points has a different ending and requires different design choices for how the participants will spend their time at the beginning, middle, and end of the conversation.
- Explore visual ways to frame the issue. The hardest part of preparing for a strategic speech is figuring out exactly what the problem is. As visual thinking guru Dan Roam likes to say, "If you know what problem you need to solve, you can draw the picture."
Practice, practice (but really, practice):
- Record the video Record 5-10 minutes of your presentation in a format that will allow you to view it easily afterward. The recording device should be placed in the middle of the room and should record both your movements and your audio. If possible, it is great to get feedback from a trusted friend or colleague.
- Practicing can make the difference between your audience counting how many times you said “umm,” and understanding your speech. Creating a manageable practice plan will decrease the amount of time and stress involved in preparing, help you feel good about your speech, and ultimately, increase the quality of your presentation in public.
Watch for feedback and adapt to it:
- One of the best things you can do while speaking keep your focus on your audience. Throughout your speech, watch for feedback from your audience and adapt to it. Involve your audience in your words and know when something isn’t working with the audience. Stay flexible.
Make eye contact:
- Eye contact is one of the most powerful tools you have to build a connection with your audience. However, far too many speakers squander the opportunity by looking back at a screen, up toward the ceiling, or down at the floor.
- Even experienced speakers have a tendency to let their eyes dart around the room for the first 30 seconds of their talk. There is one surefire cure for looking up or looking down when speaking. The fix is to make eye contact with individuals for 3 to 5 seconds. This is the same practice you naturally follow when engaging in a normal one-on-one conversation.
Let Some Questions Go:
- One of the things that can sometimes throw you off course is being asked a question when you are mid-flow through a speech or least expect it. It can interrupt your train of thought and momentarily put you off balance.
- Look at the content through the eyes of the audience and try to anticipate where their views might differ or where they might need clarification.
- It’s important to remember first and foremost that the fact that people are asking you a question in the first place means that they’re interested and engaged in what you have to say. So, a question should always be taken as a good sign and met with an extra boost of enthusiasm and confidence on your side.
Try to enjoy yourself:
- The opportunity to speak in public is an honor, not some form of cruel punishment, so let’s treat it that way. This new mindset will help you relax and have fun while speaking. It's no secret that most people loathe having to speak in public. Many CEOs and even Warren Buffett admit to struggling with fear. When you're speaking, you're vulnerable. There's no denying it. You could be laughed at, snorted at, walked out on, or just plain ignored.
- Psychologists are constantly finding new ways in which gratitude makes us healthier, happier, and more resilient. The same is true for public speaking. Walking into your speech with a spirit of gratitude will calm your nerves and put you in just the right mental space.
Include a Digital Version of Your Presentation:
- A smart presentation is a move that can greatly benefit your audience. By providing a digital version, you allow them to revisit your content at their own pace and convenience. This also enables them to easily share your presentation with others, increasing your reach and potential audience. You can share the digital version on your website, blog, or social media platform like LinkedIn. Uploading it to SlideShare is another effective way to expand your content's reach.
Always End Early & Don't End Your Speech with "Thank You":
- There’s nothing wrong with saying "thank you" to your audience. But don’t end on those words, because "thank you" is a weak close. Many speakers end with "thank you" because they didn’t prepare a strong close, and "thank you" is the only way they can convey to the audience that they have finished.
- If you believe that ending with "thank you" is polite, consider this. Your speech has value for your audience; otherwise, there’s no point in speaking. You give the gift of your value to the audience. If they are polite, they will thank you with their applause. Then you can say "thank you" for the gift of their applause. You don’t need to thank them for listening because they will only listen if it’s in their best interest. They will never listen as a favor to you.
- Consider this the silliest way to end the speech. I hope you won’t do that, and now you know why. Close your speech strongly.
Public speaking skills
While anyone can improve their speaking abilities, there are some that are more advantageous. Here are some of the essential public speaking skills:
- Ability to eliminate nervousness
- Clear Articulation
- Interact with the Audience
- Time management and pacing
- Presentation Skills
Practice Does Not Make Perfect
Good communication is never perfect, and nobody expects you to be perfect. However, putting in the requisite time to prepare will help you deliver a better speech. You may not be able to shake your nerves entirely, but you can learn to minimise them.
I hope this tips and tricks has helped you to conquer your fear of public speaking.
“Thank you for reading”
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