Speaking in public is a frightening thing for the majority of the population.
Thankfully, there are many techniques which can be taught to negate your fears and both make you a better speaker and leader. The business environment is like a battle field; if you can’t cope with the competition you’re dead! Here are some tips to help you get over your fear of speaking in front of an audience.
Listen to yourself
When rehearsing for a speech record your practice runs. When you play them back you will see what your audience sees and understand which nuances you may have which can be annoying or distracting. This is one of the best and most critical feedbacks available. One of the things that most people note is the tendency to say umm or uh. One of the best methods to get over this issue is to write the offending words down and strike a line through them. Leave cards with this by the phone, your desk and anywhere else you feel is appropriate. You will soon break the habit!
Let your body language do all the talking
Possibly more powerful than the words coming out of your mouth is your body language. The way you stand, the way you look or move your hands around can say volumes about you and your level of preparation. Speakers who fidget a lot will appear nervous and the audience will assume you do not know your subject. Relaxed, open poses with expressive arms inspire confidence in yourself and your audience.
When playing back recordings many people dislike the sound of their own voice. You may feel you sound squeaky or too deep. In reality, these are your nerves taking over. The best answer is to say “mmhm” as though agreeing with someone. This pitch is your natural tone and where you should be aiming for when speaking in public. It is also your natural tone and will show your audience that you are relaxed and in control.
It is a common mistake to speak fast. This may be to get the speech over with or to attempt to get all the information you have in your mind out to the audience. Whatever the reason, if you speak too fast it is highly likely that you will make a mistake and stumble over your own words. Practice and watching your recording will allow you to work out the best speed for you. Slower but not too slow! Providing the talk is constant and without mistakes you are doing well.
Pause to take a deep breath or just to collect your thoughts. Instead of the usually umm saying nothing allows your audience to register what you have already said and be ready for more. The pause can actually be used for you and gives you a chance to stay focused on the subject.
Talk like you write
This may sound a little confusing but often we talk and don’t allow for taking a breath. When preparing a speech, take note of how your sentences and phrases are formatted. Each one should end with a comma or full stop, and so should you when talking. If you make it obvious you are doing it then you are actually driving home your point each time. Equally, nerves can make you forget to breathe and to attempt to babble your way through your speech. The pauses, full stops and commas all give you time to breathe and remain composed. Deep breaths are best to assist in keeping calm under pressure.
Be able to speak in public is only half the battle. You ill still give a terrible speech and lose the audience if you do not speak with passion. Show the audience you believe in what you are saying and that you are passionate about it. Not only will you retain their interest, you may well inspire some of them to experience what you’re talking about and gain the same passion you have.
Believe it or not, sound public speaking abilities can help you become a fierce leader. For this to actually happen, you have to give up your anxiety and focus on your speech. Be eloquent, genuine, and enthusiastic, and you’ll definitely draw the attention of your audience.
By Jason Phillips and LondonSpeakerBureau.com!
Public speaking tips that can make you a better leader