What is Public Speaking?
According to Wikipedia “Public speaking is the process and act of speaking or giving a lecture to a group of people in a structured, deliberate manner intended to inform, influence, or entertain a listening audience”. But I don’t really like this definition.
According to me, public speaking is simply talking to more than one person at a time. It doesn’t really matter the number of people present because as long as you are speaking to more than one person at a time the way you talk and the words you use are fundamentally the same. For example for 1 person you would say “You have great hair”, but then for any other amount of people you would say “You all have great hair”.
Public speaking is simply the same conversation with multiple people.
Why Being Good at Public Speaking Is So Important
I bet every success conference or seminar you have ever attended has pushed the idea that communication and good public speaking is vital to success; that without these skills you are limiting your potential.
Well, I’m here to tell you that they were absolutely right. Public speaking is vital for success.
A few benefits of public speaking include:
- A significant career booster (interviews, presentations etc.)
- An improvement in your interpersonal skills and relationships
- A boost to your self-confidence
My Experience with Public Speaking
There was a point in my life where I used to be so terrified of public speaking that my legs used to shake even before I went up to present. I would always forget everything which I was a master of a moment ago. And when I would start speaking I would always end up stuttering and get the presentation mixed up.
Thankfully I overcame that problem. There came a point in my life where I felt enough was enough and I started reading and learning about how to become a good speaker. I used to watch and learn from great speakers and used to mimic their style. Over time and after many presentations I finally became confident in my abilities and am now comfortable enough to present and speak in front of thousands of people.
So how can you go through a metamorphosis just like me? Try following these 6 public speaking tips which I feel are the most important and beneficial.
7 Essential Tips For Public Speaking:
1. Know your Material (Plan, Plan, and Plan)
The more knowledgeable you are about what you’re speaking on, the better your presentation will become. It’s just logic. Like every other thing in this world if you can practice and prepare for your presentation enough you will become good at it. Repetition is the father of learning. So try to know more about the topic and be prepared to tackle any sort of question. Another thing you should always keep in mind is that good public speaking is very intuitive and that unexpected things are will happen. You just can’t let them throw you off. So practice to the point you are ready for anything. Say the microphone stops working or somebody accuses you of false information…what will you say or do?
These are some things to keep in mind during your planning process. You are "speaking" because you are an expert in the field. Be it a small class presentation or an extremely critical presentation to the board of directors of your company. The only reason you are speaking and the others are not is because YOU know more about the subject or situation then they do. You are the expert. You are in control. Try to embody this mindset and use it be more confident and in-charge while you speak.
2. Read & Assess Your Audience
To be a good public speaker you must be able to adapt to different situations. You have to be able to speak and behave differently for different situations. For example, if you are speaking at a wedding your tone and style “has” to be a lot different than say if you were speaking at a corporate board meeting.
That’s why you have to learn how to pick up on these social triggers. You must recognize your audience and mold your presentation accordingly. You need to learn to read between the lines.
Here are a few starting points to look for:
- What is the majority age bracket of your audience?
- Does your audience mainly consist of males or females or is there an equal amount?
- Are there largely couples or single people in the audience?
- What type of jobs do the people in your audience have?
3. Familiarize Yourself with the Room
Always arrive early to the venue where you are presenting and make yourself comfortable with your surroundings. This can really calm your nerves and therefore make a positive impact on your presentation. When you get to the venue you should be speaking asking yourself:
How big is the room? How loud will you have to be? How many people will there be?
Test the microphone and other equipment to make sure everything is good to go. This will make you more comfortable and it will give you confidence. Also like the previous point, as people come in try to guess their personalities. If they come in and are laughing and talking you should mold your presentation so you match their excitement and if they come in extremely solemn and quiet you should mold your presentation as to not overwhelm them.
4. Feel Good about Yourself (Self Confidence)
The fear of public speaking is essentially two separate fears; One that you will make a fool of yourself and two that someone will make fun of how you look, dress etc. So to overcome the first fear, practice your presentation to point where it comes out like water. Anticipate what you’re going to say next and try memorizing your lines.
As for becoming more comfortable in your skin on the day of the presentation:
- Wear your best clothes
- Your best shoes
- Your best perfume
- Get a fresh haircut and/or shave.
It might seem superficial to some but this can help. If you feel attractive and fresh you will be that much more collected and any amount of extra confidence is important to speaking better.
5. Relax and Change Your Perspective
The best thing you can do for yourself to become better at public speaking is simply change your perspective on what public speaking really is.
Try reminding yourself that public speaking is just a conversation with multiple people instead of just one. It's not really rocket science. Most people are perfectly fine speaking to one or two people but make 10 or 15 and they lose their minds. Just imagine you are speaking to a group of your friends whenever you speak in public. Your friends want you to "succeed" in getting your ideas across.
Try taking the place of an audience member for a second watching a presenter talk. 99% of the time don't you want the speaker to succeed? The more natural you behave the better your presentation will be. So take a deep breath in, calm down and don't stress out. Everything will be okay!
When you are about to present try to focus on only what you are going to say. Don’t think about messing up or what you look like. Just focus on your mouth and the words coming out.
Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you go, and fix it along the way… ― Paul Arden
This focus will not just help your presentation become better but you will feel more relaxed and confident as you will masterfully speak your well-versed speech to the audience.
7. Present with Certainty
The best presentations are those where the speaker is confident in what they are saying and they take command of the room and atmosphere. So go up strong and follow through on your message with body language.
Captivate your audience’s eyes with your hands and their ears with your voice.
Be sincere; be brief; be seated. Franklin D. Roosevelt.
That’s the end of my public speaking guide! If you have any tips which I missed share them in the comments for everybody else.
Best of Luck!