Public speaking isn’t all that difficult the way we consider it to be. Increasing your speaking skill in public is an achievable goal, especially with a little knowledge of the ways that can help you deliver a great speech with confidence.
Following are some suggestion on the ways you can excel at the Art of Public Speaking
- Know the room. Be familiar with the place in which you will speak. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
- Know the audience. Greet some of the audience as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to a group of strangers.
- Know your material. If you’re not familiar with your material or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase. Practice your speech and revise it if necessary.
- Practice speaking with your friend(s) or your parents.
- Prepare a good plan of speaking. There should be:
3 good middle points;
a summary (conclusion)
- Don’t try to speak on too many issues. In addition, don’t wander off the topic.
- Think carefully before you talk. Use silence; it can be a great ally and cause the audience to hang off your next words, wondering what you are about to say. Don’t be intimidated by silent moments.
- Practice a lot beforehand. If it’s for a presentation or a speech, the more you practice it, the more it will take on a life of its own and feel more comfortable to deliver.
- Connect with your audience. Use feelings and gestures to intensify a point. Just don’t overdo the gestures or emotion – a little goes a long way.
- Don’t look directly into people’s eyes. Focus on their foreheads or on a place at the back of the audience, just above the heads in the audience. That way you won’t feel distracted.
- Let go of assumptions. Just because an audience is not smiling or nodding in agreement does not mean they aren’t listening or feeling positive about your talk. People often do not display encouragement on their faces in an audience situation, so don’t seek it. You’ll know from the applause level at the end how well you went and by then, the speech is over!
- Never get confused. Try to speak fluently.
- Speaking fluently encourages you that you are doing all right.
Do butterflies attack your stomach each time you’re about to speak? Tired of standing on stage, gripped by fear and paralyzed by nervousness? How would you like to be able to go through the entire presentation, or speak before a crowd with fear firmly at the back of your mind?
Here, are some tips and strategies which you can employ to calm yourself when on stage or speaking in public.
- Practice your part. Practice in front of family, friends, and relatives and even in front of empty chairs. So that you are used to performing in front of people. Practice your speech or presentation and revise it until you can present it with ease.
- Know the room – become familiar with the place in which you will speak. Arrive early and walk around the room including the speaking area. Stand at the lectern, speak into the microphone. Walk around where the audience will be seated. Walk from where you will be seated to the place where you will be speaking.
- Know the Audience – If possible, greet some of the audience as they arrive and chat with them. It is easier to speak to a group of friends than to a group of strangers.
- Learn How to Relax – You can ease tension by doing exercises. Sit comfortable with your back straight. Breathe in slowly, hold your breath for 4 to 5 seconds, then slowly exhale. To relax your facial muscles, open your mouth and eyes wide, then close them tightly.
- Visualize Yourself Speaking – Imagine yourself walking confidently to the lectern as the audience applauds. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and assured. When you visualize yourself as successful, you will be successful.
- Realize People Want You To Succeed – All audiences want speakers to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They want you to succeed – not fail.
- Don’t apologize For Being Nervous – Most of the time your nervousness does not show at all. If you don’t say anything about it, nobody will notice. If you mention your nervousness or apologize for any problems you think you have with your speech, you’ll only be calling attention to it. Had you remained silent, your listeners may not have noticed at all.
- Concentrate on Your Message – not the medium – Your nervous feelings will dissipate if you focus your attention away from your anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience, not yourself.
- Turn Nervousness into Positive Energy – the same nervous energy that causes stage fright can be an asset to you. Harness it, and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm.
- Gain Experience – Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. Most beginning speakers find their anxieties decrease after each speech they give.
An impromptu speech will unnerve the best public speaker. One of the most daunting experiences a person can face is the request to deliver a speech without notice. When caught off guard, many people can suffer extreme anxiety about speaking off the cuff. Here are some tips to help you given an extempore speech without any hurdles.
- Know your direction. You’ve got to know how you want to deliver your speech before you actually speak.
- Decide quickly what your one message will be – Keep in mind you have not been asked to give a speech but to make some impromptu remarks.
- Start off strong and with confidence – If you at least plan your opening statement, this will get you started on the right foot.
- Focus on one point – talking in general is an easy task, but becomes tough when you have to talk about a particular topic. Any topic on which you need to talk about would have certain main areas. Understand that you will not be able to cover all the points in a speech, therefore concentrate on a single point and take it forward.
- Prepare some backup . It isn’t uncommon to forget what you were going to say. What separates a good speech from a disaster is how well you can catch yourself. It’s good to have a backup plan for the times when your mind suddenly blanks.
- Do not try and memorize what you will say – Trying to memorize will only make you more nervous and you will find yourself thinking more about the words and not about the message.
- Plot a course. Before you speak, try to make a quick mental outline of what you want to say.
- Keep it short and sweet. Impromptu speeches aren’t expected to be long, epic narratives. In fact, the more concise you get, the better.
- Limit your speech to your knowledge – many people tend to talk a little more without having any prior information. Talking for the sake of talking does not yield any results. It is always important that you talk as far as you know correctly about the topic and nothing more.
- Decide on your transitions from one point to the other – After you have decided on your opening remark or line, come up with a simple transition statement that takes you to your main point.
- Maintain eye contact with the audience – This is easier to do if you do not write down all kinds of stuff to read. Look down at your next idea or thought and maintain eye contact with your audience and speak from your heart. Focus on communicating TO your audience and not speaking AT the crowd.
- Be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is contagious! Before you present your ideas, think about the aspects of the subject that you find most interesting, and don’t be afraid to let that interest come through in your voice.
- Use quotes, stories and anecdotes. Along with their obvious entertainment value, quotes and stories can lend authority to your topic and provide concrete examples that people can relate to.
- Speak with confidence. Deliver your message loud and clear. Maintain eye contact with your listeners. Don’t mumble or slouch.
- Say you and we, not I and me. Instead of telling people what you want them to do, present ways for them to work together to achieve their goals. Involve listeners in the success of the group.
- Occasionally Throw in an off-the-cuff remark And add your sense of Humour– Because you want your style to be flexible and seem impromptu, trust your instinct and add a few words which just pop into your head. Keep it conversational and think of the audience as a group of your friends
- Finally, have a good conclusion – Gracefully just state, “And the last point I would like to make is ….” Focus on opening and closing statements – the opening and closing statements decide on how the audience welcomes your speech. Making an impact which can keep them glued to your speech with your opening statement and remembering your speech by the closing statement is important.
Impromptu speech is better developed by constant practice. Confidence is the key to help you develop this method of communication to a large audience.
The primary difference between a poor speech and a good one is in its delivery. The real challenge of public speaking is the actual presentation of the speech. Proper delivery techniques should be used to successfully communicate the substance of the speech to the audience. Nonverbal communication accounts for approximately 93% of the communication process. Essentially this means that how the presentation is delivered is more important than what is said. To present a speech effectively, the following skills should be developed: overcoming nerves, developing stage presence, refining vocal qualities, maximizing power of expression, making eye contact, and using presentation aids.
Preparing a Speech can be broadly divided in to two categories.
- Topic and Purpose – Make sure the topic you choose overlaps with their knowledge and interests with the interests and information needs of the audience. Presentations on general topics are more difficult to prepare and present than presentations on narrower topics. The immediate purpose of the Public speaking is to communicate your idea, thought & view point across to the audience. For this to happen, the speaker should be effective in persuading or informing the audience.
- Audience Analysis – Speakers should also perform an “audience analysis.” Sometimes this involves gathering new information about an audience; sometimes it just requires taking account of information they already have as they plan and develop a presentation. Common aspects of audience analysis include: typical age, gender, group affiliations, education, type of employment, knowledge of the topic, attitudes about the speaker and the topic, and personal or professional interests that might be relevant to the topic.
- Content – We think content should receive significant time and attention during preparation. After all, it’s the content that contains the message! Good public speaking presentations also include examples, illustrations and supporting stories that show how the information presented applies to the lives of the audience members. Most good speakers can tell a few jokes or give an enjoyable after-dinner speech. But the real work of public speaking is to inform or persuade. Therefore, it is important to present real information to their audiences, provide new insights for them, and convince them that the message rests on solid evidence. Simply testifying to the strength and sincerity of our own beliefs does not guarantee that anyone else will accept them.
- Structure – The speaker must decide whether he or she is talking about steps in a process, problems and solutions, general categories of a broader topic, a historical sequence, case examples, and so on. Strong presentations are built around a logical structure that works for the topic and helps the audience follow the speech. The structure helps the speaker decide which main point to address first and the order of the points that follow. If a presentation is just a jumble of everything we know about a topic, it can confuse the audience. If people get confused, they assume it s the speaker s fault and tend to quit listening.
- Developing the Introduction – The introduction is a vital part of the presentation because it sets the tone for what is to follow. A good introduction does the following:
- Gets attention
- Discloses the purpose
- Identifies the speaker
- Establishes Rapport
- Gives an advance summary
- Developing a Strong Conclusion – The conclusion should bring the presentation to closure. It should close the “loop” opened by the introduction. Where the introduction gives an advance notification of what will follow, the conclusion should review and reiterate the main points that have been covered. Where the introduction tells the audience how the presentation will benefit them, the conclusion should specifically tell them how and under what circumstances to apply the information provided. The conclusion should also touch again on the audience interests served by the material provided. This motivates them to remember and use the information.
Most competitors work very hard on their speech mechanics, so delivery is generally strong. Thorough preparation and rehearsal, focused on good standards of performance, is the key
- Notes vs. Memorization – Each speaker should do what he or she can do best. It’s certainly reasonable to memorize presentations when preparing for competition. Speakers want to be prepared so they don t forget anything important. But to memorize a speech, you have to write it out first. It turns out that we don t write the way we usually speak. In writing we use longer words, more formal phrasing and longer, more complex sentences. So, when speakers recite written material from memory it can sound a little stiff, as though they are reading from a book instead of speaking to an audience. Many good speakers use a keyword outline of their main points and any essential information like statistics and direct quotations. Since they aren’t following a script, they’re able to speak with personal pronouns, shorter words, shorter sentences and even sentence fragments. It just makes sense that this kind of speech is easier to remember and deliver effectively.
- Wording – Good public speaking is only slightly more formal than ordinary conversational speech. Long words may sound important, but they don t necessarily communicate better. Some good rules to follow are:
- don’t use any words you don t think your audience will understand,
- don’t use any words you aren’t sure you know how to pronounce correctly,
- don’t use any words you wouldn’t care to define in response to a judge’s question,
- don t use any long words if you know short words that will do just as well,
- never use two or more words when one word will do the job.
- Movement – Many effective speakers stay at the podium, others prefer to move around. From my experience, I suggest that neither approach is automatically superior. There have been “movers” and winning “podium standers” speeches. The key is what works for the speaker. If the movement seems spontaneous and it emphasizes and supports the presentation, then it can be very effective. On the other hand, movement can also appear mechanical, detracting from the immediacy of a presentation. Also, if the movement seems random or nervous, it will only detract from the speech.
- Gesture – Gestures and movements, like many other nonverbal communications, can either tremendously reinforce and clarify the speech, or distract the audience from the message. In order to eliminate nervous habits, the speaker must first identify any tendencies that may be exhibited. The best way to do this is by videotaping a practice delivery and analyzing the tape. It often helps to have someone else assist with the tape analysis since speakers tend to focus more on how they sound than on their mannerisms. Another benefit of movement is that it helps to engage the audience. They pay more attention, especially if the speaker is moving towards them. As speakers learn to read the audience’s feedback, they can use movement to respond. However, one of the most important factors of movement is that it looks natural. Movement that looks rehearsed takes away from the speech; unnatural movements do not help the speaker feel more at ease. Also, care should be taken to not go overboard. Pacing and overuse of gestures and movements distracts from the presentation.
- Vocal Delivery – Some people are born with better voices than others. However, just about everyone can learn effective vocal delivery. The keys are comfort and variety. As speakers gain experience, they will discover the vocal pitch and volume that are most comfortable for them most of the time. Pitch means how high or low a voice sounds within its own range. Never try to “sound like an orator,” our natural voice will always sound better. Then, to add emphasis or help the audience interpret the meaning of the presentation, competitors should punctuate with changes in pitch, rate, and/or volume. Use a fairly conversational delivery for most of the presentation and save the extra volume and emphasis for when they are needed. Finally, effective delivery requires correct pronunciation. If a word is too hard to pronounce, choose a simpler word.
- Interaction with Audience – The best presentations seem more like conversations than lectures or sermons. That’s because the best speakers know that audiences like to participate, to be involved. One way to do this is with the rhetorical question. (“What would life be like without agriculture?” or, “Who wants their children to live in a world without clean water?”) Speakers don’t ask these questions because they want the audience to answer out loud. Instead, the speaker wants them to answer in their own minds. When they do, they are participating in the presentation, even though they aren’t saying anything. Another way to involve the audience is to acknowledge their reactions and opinions (“When I say agriculture, I know that most of you are thinking ‘cows and tractors,’ or, “If you re like most people our age you ve never even thought about problems with the local landfill.”) These techniques allow a speaker to talk with an audience, as he or she would in a conversation, as opposed to merely talking in front of them.
Finally, smiling, making lots of eye contact and using personal pronouns such as you, we, us, and our help increase interaction and a sense of identification between speaker and audience.
Develop and deliver your presentation using these five key concepts and you’ll be a successful speaker.