By Dan Fries, Collective Evolution
You’re sitting in a crowded room for a seminar on an interesting topic that could potentially help you change your life for the better. You’re really excited to learn so you sit back, relax, and wait expectantly. The speaker is called on stage.
The speaker is sweating and stammering. He’s having a hard time explaining. You can’t understand the topic anymore, and you notice that the rest of the audience looks confused as well.
When the speaker cannot effectively communicate the point he wishes to make, confusion and misunderstanding inevitably result. In a world where communication is key, public speaking has become an important — yet still scarce — skill to have.
The Art of Public Speaking
Public speaking is what happens when you present a speech to a live audience. The topic can be anything under the sun and can range from the most basic to the most complex ideas.
Politicians, celebrities, teachers, and businessmen usually engage in public speaking. Because floods of information are constantly thrown our way, communication is essential to ensuring that the right information is channeled to and understood by the listeners.
Because of its importance and its power to change how people think and act, public speaking has also been considered an art. In fact, there are influential people who engage in public speaking for a living.
Many significant events in history were initiated by public speaking. A perfect example is when Martin Luther King gave the famous “I have a dream” speech, which inspired lots of people and created radical change. Mahatma Gandhi has also affected major decisions because of his charismatic way of speaking.
The power and potential of public speaking should not be underestimated. In fact, it is recommended that you learn public speaking and use it as a tool to be successful in whatever field you choose.
Why Public Speaking Is Important
Being a good public speaker translates to being comfortable in the presence of other people, even strangers. Knowing that you can effectively communicate builds your confidence and improves the way you relate to others.
When it comes to business, especially sales, public speaking can work wonders. It is proven to be one of the best tools to generate and increase profit. Having superb convincing powers sometimes beats having a quality product to sell.
If you are a good public speaker, you will be opening more doors and opportunities. It is a skill that can help you advance in your career and get what you want. It’s also worth mentioning that communication skills are necessary in leadership positions.
5 Hacks to Be a Better Public Speaker
You may think that you do not need to do it now, but, believe me, you do. Think of all the opportunities that slipped away that you can’t get back because of speaking insecurities. Imagine what you could do today with more confidence whenever you open your mouth.
Someday is too far away. You need to influence other people now, inspire change now, and create a difference now. Harnessing your public skills may not be the sole ingredient to enabling all these things, but it can take you places and help you achieve goals that keeping your mouth shut cannot.
Lots of people fear public speaking, and this is normal. It is, in fact, the world’s greatest fear with dying only a far second. People claim to prefer death over having to speak in public — talk about extreme phobia!
However, the journey to becoming a great speaker has to start somewhere. With a brighter outlook and some practice, you will surely be able to measure and identify the changes and progress.
If you improve your skills, you will be more confident to speak in front of an audience. And if you are more confident, you will definitely have a great experience to go with your desired outcome.
Here are five simple hacks to be a better public speaker in just a few minutes.
1. Prepare and practice
Confidence comes from knowing and believing what you’re saying. When you’re an expert on your topic, you deliver it with a certain degree of conviction. The conviction becomes palpable in your tone and manner, so that listeners actually feel the weight of your words.
These are what the best speakers are known for. They are able to transform otherwise lifeless words into strong motivations, believable ideas, and actionable plans. Because they deliver their speeches with much passion and gusto, they are able to excite the audience’s multiple senses.
Mastery is key here. When you have no problem with what you have to say, you can now work on how to say it.
Make an outline and really spend time developing and studying your speech. Make sure that the main points are identified, emphasized, and explained clearly. For inspiration, you can watch videos of well-known public speakers to see how they do it.
Once you’re happy with your script, practice saying it out loud for a few minutes every day. The more you know about the topic, the less you have to memorize. You just need to be familiar with the outline and you can fill in the words effortlessly.
You can also practice in front of a mirror to see if you look confident or tense. By doing this, you can also notice any mannerisms you may have that can distract your audience. Try recording your voice or taking a video of yourself while practicing.
2. Make it light and entertaining
No one likes a bore. No matter how much you know and are prepared to share, if you can’t get an audience to listen to you, then it’s all for naught. Keeping the audience engaged is as important as communicating the meat of your speech.
Humour is a great strategy applied by the world’s best speakers. To be able to elicit laughter from the audience affirms that they are paying attention. When you feel at ease with the audience, this will translate into confidence.
Keep the speech light by using simple words and everyday phrases. Don’t try to impress by using big words, and don’t feel pressured to come up with a long speech just to prove you are knowledgeable about the topic. A short, understandable, and relatable speech packs a stronger punch than a confusing litany of facts.
3. Get to know your audience
The mantra of communication is always put your audience first. Different audiences call for different treatments. How you will present the information revolves around understanding the demographics of the people who are expected to digest it.
It would help to mingle with the crowd before your turn on stage. Not only will this provide you with an idea of how familiar they are with the topic or theme, but it could also help you come across as approachable and interactive. This is a great way to break the barrier and gain their trust.
4. Engage your audience
People like to feel that they are valued and that they are involved. Speakers usually open the floor for questions after the talk in order to get feedback, questions, and suggestions from the audience.
While an open forum is a pretty good idea, remember that your speech doesn’t have to be a monologue; you can engage the audience even during your speech. You can ask questions, or you can conduct a simple poll wherein the audience can raise their hands in response.
Plan out different techniques for how you can dynamically interact with the audience even in between your speech. Pick off from their answers and anecdotes and relate their experiences to how your talk can help them. Once they see that the material is personalized and tailor-fit for them personally, they gain a greater ownership of the learning they gathered.
5. Relax and smile!
It’s important to learn to deal with anxiety. Smiling will not only put you at ease, it will also help your audience warm up to you. Give your audience a big smile when you greet and acknowledge them at the start of your speech. Some will most likely smile back. Smiling is the easiest way to connect with people even before words are needed.
How you project yourself affects your audience much more than you know. When you bring so much tension onstage, your listeners feel it and respond in ways you don’t desire them to. Take deep breaths and calm yourself down.
You are the mood captain. When you emit good energy and positive vibes, most likely, that’s what you get in return.
Practice, preparedness, and presence of mind prevent you from rambling and getting disorganized. When you’re well versed in what you have to say, you can then focus on your audience without having to turn to your script every now and then. Mastery of your material is key.
Walk Your Talk
Embody your message and be passionate about your topic so your audience will be even more excited to listen. Relevant personal anecdotes send the message that you walk your talk. Be the perfect example of how the information you’re sharing has been effective in affecting change in you.
These are just some of the things you can do in order to improve your public speaking skills. Communication is an integral part of our day-to-day lives, and making the conscious effort to improve how you communicate in every situation of every day is the perfect way to master this powerful skill.
It will take minutes, but that’s minutes upon minutes. As long as it takes to improve, keep going. The fact is no lasting improvement can be done overnight.
It may seem scary at first, but effectively wielding the art of public speaking can open doors to worlds otherwise untapped. Your thoughts spoken the right way can and will affect change and spark revolutions many times over. Use your skills wisely and make every word count.