This I can testify to as even though to the public, I am this bubbly extrovert and somewhat loud personality; truth be told – I am petrified of doing public speaking. My fear stems from being perceived as too aggressive or lacking no ‘humph’ in connecting with my audience. This year, I have decided to challenge myself by learning to lecture like a pro by sourcing out a Toastmasters group to attend – https://www.toastmasters.org/. You should too!
Here are four tips to help you polish your public speaking as sourced from SAVVY SUGAR
Assess yourself. What part of public speaking makes you nervous? Where have you slipped up in the past? One reason public speaking is so nerve-racking is because there’s so much to manage — your presence, your words, your delivery, and your reaction. Determine your weakest points, from stuttering to stiff hands, in order to tailor your speech improvement.
Find opportunities to practise. It’s hard to feel confident about speaking if it’s something you rarely do, so look for the chance to polish your technique in everyday life. At a dinner party? Offer to give the toast. Working on a new project at the office? Present it at the weekly staff meeting. Public speaking is like anything else: the more you do it, the better you’ll become, and then more comfortable you’ll feel when the moment arises.
Dress the part. Confidence is crucial, and you’ll be much more sure of yourself if you know that your appearance conveys a sense of authority. It’s best to err on the dressy side when you plan to speak in front of an audience — and it’s crucial that your clothes fit well. Tugging at the hem of your skirt or the sleeves of your blouse will distract both you and your audience. It’s important to look put-together, and the focus should be on your words, not your outfit.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. Begin with standard prep techniques, like writing note cards and practising in front of your friends, but also take the time to do some research. Find out as much as you can about your audience, the context of your speech, the environment, and the tools and media that will be available. Most importantly, be sure that you’re achieving what was asked of you — confirm that you’re answering the right question and fulfilling the expectations of your audience.
According to Toastmasters International, President Pat Johnson offer some tips on how to improve our public speaking skills. It seems that Pat had started out with very little confidence and gained a lot of it throughout her years at Toastmasters. More on Pat’s tips:
It’s Not Just Words: Pat says: “What we know scientifically is that words are eight percent of the message that we deliver. Our body language, our facial expressions, our intonation, our voice — all of those are critical [and are a] huge proportion of the message we deliver so when we practise it’s important to know what we look like.” Ask yourself if “there is a congruency between my message and appearance.”
Know Your Audience: Pat says: “Recognise your audience and know who your audience is. That would be one of the critical things to do before you even start preparing for your presentation. You need the context and total understanding of who comprises the audience.”
Think About Your Purpose: Pat says: “It’s really important as a speaker to determine what your purpose is. Are you there to inspire them, to motivate them to do something [or] are you there to share information? All of those purposes are important to decide because it determines how you build your presentation.”
Respect the Time: Pat says: “It’s critical as a speaker to prepare for the time allocated and present within that time limit. One of the variables within that timing element is to know yourself. Do you speak slower or do you speak more rapidly when you’re stressed? Do you ask questions and wait for responses? Are you using humour, which will take more time because audience laughs? You need to take all that into account when you’re timing your presentation.”
Just Listen: Pat says: “We have a slogan that says for better listening, thinking, and speaking. I don’t believe that it’s any accident that speaking comes third, listening comes first, and thinking comes second. We need to listen to what someone says, then we need to engage our brain to actually think about our response before speaking.”
Harness Those Butterflies: Pat says: “We can call it fear or excitement. It’s all adrenaline, and some of us say that adrenaline is our drug of choice and that we never get rid of the butterflies but we say we just get them to fly in formation. We learn to control that adrenaline rush and call it excitement and use it. Once you practise and are familiar with what happens to you physically, then you can manage that.”
Know That You’re Not Alone: Pat says that when she’s nervous sometimes she thinks to herself that “chances are somebody in the audience have had the same experience.” Knowing you’re not alone will help put you at ease.
Above all else, learn to relax. Everyone understands the stress and pressure involved with public speaking, so know that your audience will be empathetic toward your efforts. Just remember the basics — to stand up straight, smile, and make eye contact — and be yourself, because personality and genuine enthusiasm are key to making great connections.
Yours in love – The Renaissance Lady ©