There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love to stand up in front of an audience and everyone else. It’s no secret that most people are scared of public speaking, but I can tell you from experience that it’s possible to move from terrified amateur to confident professional. All you need to do it is have some FUN. Here’s how…
Focus on the Facts
There’s little worse that watching a presenter mumble randomly through a collection of disconnected slides. Be organised, provide your audience with a clear structure to your points. This helps your audience relax and enjoy your speech. Audiences enjoy listening to an expert so demonstrate your expertise with stories and examples or use supporting evidence or statistics.
Understand Your Audience
Okay, here’s the deal. If I’m in the audience I want you to speak directly to me. Presenters who talk to themselves are boring. Connect with your audience emotionally, speak with passion and above all empathise with them. Your audience will let you know when to be humorous, when to be serious and when to inform. Every great speaker knows the secret is to simply pay attention to what their audience wants.
Nerves are Normal
Everyone gets nervous. It’s normal. Don’t listen to the inner voice that wants to stop you from performing. Every speaker feels nervous before they speak. The ones that say they don’t, aren’t as good as they think they are. Performance anxiety is a normal physiological response to an unfamiliar environment.
Practice makes your nerves less of an issue, but they should never completely disappear. I remember that I used to get so nervous before a speech or presentation that I could barely hear what other people were saying. The important thing is to feel the fear and just keep going anyway. If you feel your speech isn’t going well, just pause and check your audience. Their behaviour will always tell you how to recapture their interest. Just don’t give in and stop. Unless, of course, you’ve run out of time.
One Final Tip
If you’d like to improve your public speaking skills there is no better way than joining your local public speaking club. Toastmasters International is the world’s largest collection of public speaking clubs and there’s bound to be one near you.