Whether you make a living delivering speeches and lectures on various topics or not, you will have to stand in front of people to make some sort of presentation every now and then. Your ability to deliver good presentations will either earn you good grades in a particular course if you are schooling, enable you to get funds for a business idea from an investor if you are an entrepreneur, win a contract worth a lot of money for the company you work for, or make an impact on your audience if you are a life coach or a motivational speaker. Although public speaking is part of all we do, from the little things to the major things, most people dread it. Most people find it very difficult to stand before a group of people to speak. My objective today is to help you overcome your fear so you can be able to deliver great speeches anytime the need arises. We’ll look at what to do before your presentation, during your presentation and then after your presentation. Let’s get started!
If you are a life coach or you have the opportunity to choose any subject at all to speak on, choose one you are passionate about. Your passion and excitement about the topic will allow you to flow better and get your audience interested in what you are talking about.
Don’t assume you know all there is to know about the subject you are going to speak on, do a thorough research into it. People like to listen to people who know what they are talking about. Read as many books and articles on subject. Watch YouTube videos on it. Just make sure you understand every detail of the topic so that when your audience throw questions at you, you’ll be able to answer appropriately.
After your research, organize your findings. Ensure that each point flows into the next. You’ll find it easier remembering all you plan to say if your points are well organized. Your audience will understand the message you are putting across as well. Using Power Point Presentation can be very helpful. However do not place a whole paragraph on a slide or too many things (images, text, etc) on a single slide. Five bullets a slide is just fine. Choose appropriate font colors as well.
The kind of people you are speaking to – whether old or young, professional or uneducated, school children or University graduates, etc – should be taken into consideration. The kind of people you are speaking to will determine the type of speech delivery, choice of words, body language etc.
There are 4 basic types of speech delivery. The first is Impromptu Speech. Impromptu speeches are given when one is not told ahead of time to prepare to give a speech but is however called upon to give one. An instance is when you are asked to give your opinion on a subject. When giving an impromptu speech, take a moment to gather your thoughts. Then limit yourself to one idea and say all you can about it. Thank whoever gave you the opportunity and take your seat. Don’t try to speak at length because your speech may end up not being meaningful. The next is Extemporaneous Speech. This is a speech that is planned for and rehearsed ahead of time. Most of the points discussed relate more to extemporaneous speeches. Next is Manuscript speech. This is a speech delivered by reading directly from a printed document or from a screen. With this type of speech, little eye contact is made with the audience. Speeches delivered at national gatherings are mostly this type. If not skillfully used, your audience may find it boring listening to you. The last is Memorized speech. Memorized speeches are used by actors, poets and in stage plays. It’s almost like manuscript speech, only that this time, you don’t look on a script and you have the opportunity of using more guestures and body language to communicate your thoughts.
Rehearsing is one of the most important things to do when preparing to give a speech, however most people fail to do this. Stand before a mirror and make the presentation like you would in front of the audience and look at your facial expressions, guestures etc. If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, your audience may probably not like it too. So make the necessary corrections to your posture, gestures etc. You can also have a friend sit and listen to you as you present so he/she can tell you his observations as you delivered the speech.
Dress to fit the occasion. Be smartly dressed and look professional. If you are not comfortable in what you are wearing, you will not be too confident on the stage as you’ll be wondering what people think of your attire.
It’s normal to feel a bit nervous before your presentation. Take in a deep breath and be relaxed. Be confident that you’ll make an impact on your audience. Share a funny story or throw a question to the audience. This will get their attention and get them involved in your presentation. This will make you feel a lot more relaxed so you can proceed.
Don’t speak too fast. Your audience will not be able to follow. You’ll be out of breath in no time and this will affect your delivery. Don’t be too slow either. You’ll get your audience yawning in no time.
Do not look at the ceiling or the floor. Neither should you turn your back to the audience. Always maintain eye contact till your audience can feel the weight of every word you utter.
It’s not easy to stand in front of people to speak. So give yourself some credit. Be glad you were able to stand before all those people to give the presentation. You can even take yourself out for lunch! There’s no telling how improved your delivery will be the next time.
If there is a video or audio recording of your speech, get it and watch/listen to it. Take note of the corrections you need to make so your next presentation is way better.
Carmine Gallo narrates how Warren Buffet conquered his terrifying fear of public speaking :
Billionaire investor Warren Buffet was “terrified” of public speaking. He was so nervous, in fact, that he would arrange and choose his college classes to avoid having to get up in front of people. He then enrolled in a public speaking course and dropped out before it even started. “I lost my nerve”, he said. At age 21, Buffet started his career in the securities business in Omaha and decided that to reach his full potential, he had to overcome his fear of public speaking. Buffet enrolled in a Dale Carnegie course with other thirty people who, like him, were “terrified of getting up and saying our name”. Enrolling in a public speaking course was a good first step to helping Buffet build confidence as a public speaker. The key, he said, was signing up to teach a night course at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Buffet taught Investment principles to students twice his age. He did it to force himself to stand up and talk to people.
My point is, face your fears! Take advantage of every opportunity to make a presentation before people. The more you do this, the less nervous you’ll get whenever you have to do it.
Thanks for reading. Please like this article and comment to let me know what you think as well.