Public speaking is one of the most dreaded activities in the world. If you thought death was the number one fear of humans, you're wrong. It is, in fact, speaking in front of an audience that is the leading fear among human beings. Why is that so? Well, public speaking means different things for different people, but people's aversion to it largely stems from a fear of failure. For one person, failing to appeal to an audience is his or her worst nightmare, whereas for another, failing to remember all of his or her points is the worst thing that can happen. Whatever the reason may be, a majority of people dislike public speaking, but the good news is that it can be learned and mastered. There is a common misconception that public speakers are inherently extroverted, confident and by nature, great at public speaking. While some public speakers may have a certain knack for the practice, the truth is anyone can become an excellent speaker. Similarly to confidence, public speaking is not something you're necessarily born with. It is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced. How exactly can you become a better public speaker? There are five key words to keep in mind the next time you're preparing for a presentation or speech: Purpose, Engagement, Preparation, Practice and Awareness.
Purpose: With purpose, you want to figure out what is the message you are trying to get across. With purpose, you must remember that you are in the expert's position in the time that you are presenting. People are listening to you to receive knowledge and information. Think of your purpose as a way to inform the audience and serve them. This will perhaps enable you to shift the focus from yourself and your own self-doubts to your audience and their needs.
Engagement: No one enjoys a speaker who is not actively engaged with his or her audience. Think of public speaking as a large conversation you're having with people. You want them to feel as if you're genuinely interested in sharing something of importance with them. You can do this by asking them questions, if it is appropriate for the type of presentation you're delivering, or through the way you speak. Maintaining a conversational tone while speaking in a slow, clear manner is a sure way to keep your audience engaged and eager to listen to whatever you have to say next.
Preparation: Without preparation, you cannot be a successful public speaker. It's evident that preparation is important when giving a presentation or delivering a speech, but it must be outlined and repeated. Preparation entails doing your research and ensuring you have all the information you need to accurately and clearly educate your audience, but preparation does not merely pertain to the content of your speech. It also refers to the way you physically and mentally prepare for a presentation. You must prepare the way you say your speech as well as the way you feel and present yourself throughout your speech.
Practice: With practice, you'll be able to perfect all that you have organized in your preparation stage. At this point, you know what you want to say and how you want to say it. All that is needed is for you to practice, practice, and practice. Try giving your speech in front of friends and family in order to become more comfortable presenting in front of an actual audience. People that you trust may also provide you with some constructive criticism and recommendations for change or they can give you praise for the great job that you have done. Either way, it'll prove to be helpful to you.
Awareness: When you are finally delivering your speech, become aware of how you are feeling. You obviously will feel more nervous than when you were practicing it, but keep in mind that you have already done all the hard work. You've prepared, practiced and now it's time to show what you've been working on. Be aware of the way your body reacts and maintain composure and confidence throughout your presentation. Feel reassured by the fact that you have already done it all.Even though public speaking is widely feared, the fact of the matter is there is a way to overcome that fear. There are many elements to the mastery of speaking publicly and will require time and patience. Have a clear, defined purpose. Know your audience and aim to inform them as well as engage them. Prepare what you want to say and how you want to say it. Like with any other skill, practice is essential to mastering the art of effective public speaking. Practice all that you have prepared in front of people you know to become more adjusted to speaking before others. Finally, be aware of your surroundings, your thoughts, feelings and body language. Maintain calmness and confidence as you speak and remember that you're simply emitting words. You've done it before and this isn't any different.