Do you know what most people are afraid of?
That's right, they're more scared of speaking in front of a crowd than of sharks and dying.
I've had so many people tell me in the past, "I'd rather die than stand up in front of everyone and give a speech."
While I know most of them were probably exaggerating when they said that, I knew what they meant. They dreaded making speeches because for them, standing in front of a crowd, whether big or small, is incredibly intimidating.
The worst part for them is: Public speaking is largely unavoidable.
They're likely to imagine every possible thing that can go wrong, every reason why everyone probably thinks your speech is not worth listening to, and every word or sentence that you might stutter over.
If this is you, take heart. The truth of the matter is, everyone who makes a speech encounters those same type of fears.
However, public speaking doesn't have to be a scary thing.
All you need is some preparation and practice.
Here are five key points that will help you to prepare for any speech and be confident:
1. First, what is your argument? Do not start any speech without thinking about this first, or else your speech will end up trying to make different arguments, and your audience will be lost and confused. So, what is it that you are trying to convince your audience of?
2. Once you know your argument, think about your audience and how you can appeal to them. Remember, your speech is for your audience. You may love your topic, but your audience may not understand your topic or may not be interested in it. So, think of ways you can make the topic relatable to your audience. You want to be able to captivate their attention so that they will be interested in listening to your speech.
3. Captivating first line. Your audience will be most attentive in the beginning, so the first sentence of your speech should be interesting and engaging (except try not to be too cheesy!) Make sure that you look passionate about what you are talking about, and project your voice so that your audience knows you are confident in the argument you are about to present to them.
4. The 3 Magic Major Points: You want your audience to be able to take away 3 major points that validate your argument. Having three good points will really to support your argument.
State your 1st major point, then make sure you back it up with good evidence and/or personal experience. Then, do the same for the next 2 points you have.
5. The Finale: Once you're done stating your three major points, you should conclude your speech by repeating your three points again (except try to repeat it in a different way)so that your audience will remember your argument. Your audience will always remember what you say in the beginning and the very end of your speech, so it's important to end it strong! I like to end my speeches with a great story, a great line, or a great question that gets my audience to really think about my speech.
And you've finished! That feeling of sitting down after making a well thought-out speech is incredibly rewarding, and you may even grow to love public speaking!
What really helps before making a speech is not allowing yourself to stress out and not thinking too much about whether or not your audience will like you or your speech.
Just be passionate about what you are sharing, remain calm and say your main points, remind yourself that the worst case scenario will probably NOT happen when you're in front of everyone, and maintain eye contact with your audience.
If you can, walk around a bit as you make your speech to help yourself relax. And don't forget to smile (when it's appropriate only!) Looking and acting confident will engage your audience in more ways than you can imagine.
Finally, be yourself! You have your own unique way of communicating to an audience, so don't be afraid to be you, and don't force yourself to speak like someone else.
LAST bit of advice: Keep your speech simple. don't overcomplicate it with big words or big ideas. People just want to connect with what you have to say, and everyone loves simplicity. To see great examples of this, watch TED talks on YouTube. TED Talk speakers will really help demonstrate how a good speaker can get his or her point across effectively in an interesting and simple way, in a short amount of time!