In today’s highly connected & competitive world, no one can survive and strive without this skill – Public Speaking. In order to win the heart of your potential employer/ client/ audience/ date, you need to be an engaging speaker who can mesmerize/ captivate/ connect with them and give a lasting impression. No one is born to be a competent communicator. There are many renowned leaders who practice and spend countless hours to become more poised, polished and proficient speakers.
Our communication can be evaluated into these three categories (Visual, Vocal & Verbal):
- Visual – We must be appropriately dressed and groomed properly (most of the time, dress better than your audience) and that can provide positive first impression. Our body language like posture, gestures, facial expressions needs to be effective and congruent to our speech and presentation.
- Vocal – The way we speak, in terms of rate, volume, pitch, tone, etc., can affect the mood and energy of the audience. Depending on the topic, we have to adjust our vocal to match. A general rule of thumb is speaking with emotions (i.e. excitement, conviction and empathy). Vary our intonation to add variety to the ears of our audience.
- Verbal – This is the most important part of the speech/presentation. It is the substance/message that draws people’s attention to spend the time listening to you. Focus more of your time in preparing what you want to say. Use words that are simple and easy to understand so that the people don’t have to search dictionary and ask you. Share more stories, examples and experience than facts and advice.
Toastmasters International shares 10 proven tips on how to control your butterflies and give better presentations:
1. Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more about it than you include in your speech. Use humor, personal stories and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say.
2. Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Work to control filler words; Practice, pause and breathe. Practice with a timer and allow time for the unexpected.
3. Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
4. Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
5. Relax. Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. (“One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.) Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
6. Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence.
7. Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They’re rooting for you.
8. Don’t apologize for any nervousness or problem – the audience probably never noticed it.
9. Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.
10. Gain experience. Mainly, your speech should represent you — as an authority and as a person. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking.