Whether you are an entrepreneur or you’re still climbing the corporate ladder, you will most probably notice that almost all professionals you encounter have a specific set of skills that makes them valuable in their field. Upon further inspection you notice that it’s not always the case that the most knowledgeable person is the one who has the highest impact.
People who have the most impact are the ones who master an additional set of skills that upon mastering will give you a huge advantage regardless of what industry or profession you are in. Mastery of professional speaking is one such skill that enables you to create an impact when it matters.
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders, and heights. Public speaking anxiety, or “glossophobia”, affects about 73% of Americans. The reason behind this is that we are so scared of being criticized that we forget we have the power to share a message.
Fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders, and heights. Public speaking anxiety, or “glossophobia”, affects about 73% of Americans.
Being able to comfortably speak in front of a group is a critical skill to have both in your work and your private life. It is a gift that keeps on giving. In this article I’d like to share some tips that could help you conquer your public speaking fears and get your message across.
1- Warm-Up Right
Even the most practiced speakers experience pre-speech anxiety. The best way to overcome this anxiety is to have a great warm-up routine. Psych yourself up with a little pre-performance ritual, make sure you include practicing your stand, your movement and doing tongue twisters in your routine. If meditation, or yoga helps get you in the right state of mind, add it to your routine as well.
Give yourself enough time for preparation. Do your research, make notes on all of the points you want to make, practice your speech in front of a mirror or a group of friends. This will help you ensure that all the materials you need exist and allow for plenty of practice.
2- Structure Your Speech Well
Start your speech by explaining the problem or what you’re aiming to enhance , what process it goes through and what it achieves. Then explain what results you hope to achieve, how you are going to do it, and how it will contribute to achieving better results in the future.
3 – Avoid Apologizing
When feeling nervous some tend to start apologizing, or reflecting self-doubt. They say things such as ‘It’s just my opinion,’ or ‘I’m not really sure,’ or ‘I could be wrong. This will be detrimental to the message you’re trying to deliver!
Make sure your research is solid and you have a full grasp of all points you want to deliver. It’s also important to understand -even if you are a great speaker- that not everyone will like you and some might even challenge your points without basis. But that could be a good thing. It gives you a chance to lead the conversation to your strong points.
4 – Use Your Body to Emphasize Your Message
Whether you’re talking to a big crowd or you’re in a management meeting, leveraging your body language goes a long way to emphasize your message and helps you capture the audience.
When we feel nervous, we often tend to minimize the amount of space our body takes. We also tend to barricade our bodies from others by crossing our arms or getting behind an object like a chair or a podium. This kind of behavior projects low confidence in yourself and your message. Wringing your hands, cracking your knuckles, touching your face or hair or biting your lips would convey nervousness as well. Try holding a mic, a pointer or a pen. This will prevent you from crossing your hand or putting them in your pockets.
Adopt an open posture, use your hands, head and facial features to emphasize your message. When moving your hands, keep your hands open and avoid pointing your finger at the audience. Make sure to divide your attention on the audience equally, keep facing your audience and move gracefully in your space -moving too fast can be distracting. make eye contact with your audience and make sure to keep it on one person as it can feel uncomfortable for that person and make other people feel irrelevant.
Nonverbal communication goes beyond the body into the clothes and colors we’re wearing. Studies show that carrying more than one item reflects that the person is unorganized. A bag or a brief case is usually sufficient to carry whatever you might need. Before attending a meeting leave any extra items such as your coat at the reception.
5 – Keep Audience on the edges of Their Seats
The most Influential speakers are community-oriented. Using collaborative words and personal pronouns helps the audience feel more involved with the message. This approach is proven to be most effective in reflecting confidence, and keeping your audience engaged. Creating activities, facilitating Q/A sessions or doing call-outs to the audience would certainly help.
Utilizing emotions is another important tool to keep your audience engaged and committed to your message. Emotions add spice, flavor, and personality to your talk, stories, and ideas. When delivering your message show passion, variability, awe, and excitement.
Stories are the most powerful tool as our minds are programmed to entertain them and it allows us to imagine ourselves as a part of the experience. Showing the problem and how to solve it in real life triggers the listener’s brain activities as if they themselves were in the story!
Humor is another powerful but tricky tool. Most memorable speeches and the ones that received standing ovations had people smiling all through it. I am not telling you to fill your speech with jokes although it would be great if you did, but jokes that don’t come naturally can have the opposite effect. Instead, adopt a laughing mindset, utilize inside jokes, use your body and keep smiling. That leaves your audience feeling like they were sitting with a friend.
6 – Finish Strong
All great speeches start with a problem you’re trying to solve. The end of your speech must be connected with its beginning, finish a story or a joke you started at the beginning and solve the problem you’ve addressed.