Imagine you are sitting in the Group Discussion round of your MBA degree. And you have to join this discussion. You have to put forward your views and bring counterarguments. Meanwhile, you’re also going through:
Sweaty palms and hands 😰
“Hmm, where have I experienced this earlier?”
Remember that day when your teacher asked you to come up to the stage and recite your essay?
You stood up in front of all your classmates. And you found yourself at a loss for words even though you had everything written down on paper?
So, do you still go through the same emotions while speaking in public?
Even after all these years…
Don’t you think there should be some handy, helpful, and easy tips to overcome these emotions while speaking in public?
If you are looking for an answer, read these 7 tips that you can easily apply in any situation!
Treat it as a fun activity 🎙
Every person has a unique style of telling things. Bring your natural conversation skills to public speaking.
For example, I start everything with a story that relates to people in any phase of their life. Hence, you can call storytelling my unique style.
Similarly, practice different styles and find your own.
One of the greatest humorous motivational speakers to walk our planet is Jim Carrey. His style of speaking is entertaining. He brings humour when speaking about his struggles and how he overcame them.
While in more recent times, there’s Joe Rogan. He has an improvisational, loose, and interactive style of speaking. As a podcaster, he has found his style of discussing current events and politics.
The idea is, if people relate to you, they listen to you. Authenticity makes you real. It makes people curious to learn more by paying attention to you.
Hence, practice with every style and find your own.
This brings us to our next tip 👇
Audience participation 🙋♂️
Public speaking is not only about telling people what you think and convincing them. It’s more about communicating by coming to their level. And for that, it’s important to know what your audience thinks.
So, how do you do that?
You focus on maximum participation by the audience. Make it an interactive session. Ask questions between intervals. Also, answer their questions about the topic too.
For example, you are into Filmmaking and are starting as a documentarist. You have to speak on the Indian and International independent filmmaking industry.
You can open your speech by quoting a famous French or German filmmaker. And then, you can immediately ask the name of who spoke that dialogue.
Then, you can speak on that filmmaker’s style of shooting his scenes and how he gets inspiration. For example, Satyajit Ray is an Indian Filmmaker. His style is showing real struggles of ordinary people.
People will listen to you only if they want to. So, you need to keep giving them reasons that it was the right choice that they took.
Some topics are more difficult than others. Hence, they might require more practice than usual. Practice is another important tip for polishing up your public speaking.
Which is the next tip in the queue:
Practice and preparation 🗣
Before you speak in public, prepare your content.
Preparing an outline of the content is equally important as its delivery. Notice how you sometimes cast your eyes to the sides or down. That’s probably because you look for a better word when you forget what to say.
Hence, create a structure with strong opening points. Add your experiences wherever necessary. Relate them to your subject and highlight key points. It also gives you time to correct your grammar beforehand.
It builds your confidence and makes you realize your mistakes.
Based on that, prepare your delivery. Be your audience. Stand in front of a mirror and practice how you’re going to sound on the stage. You can notice your expressions, gestures and body language.
Other than that, you can record yourself on a video camera. Then, watch your recordings, and learn where you made mistakes. Ask others to hear you out and get their feedback.
Take notes on the exact instances where you feel stuck. Practising in front of the mirror makes you more aware. Whenever you start to look away, ask yourself:
Is that an intended pause or I forgot something?
If I can’t look at my own eyes in the mirror, how will I look at the public and maintain eye contact?
Approach negative remarks lightly 🙅♂️
Some topics can trigger extreme emotions in the audience. They can often get serious and the audience might start getting uncomfortable.
But understand, YOU are at the stage and not them. You have something that the audience doesn’t and that’s why they came to listen to you.
You might get anxious about some topics, but there are ways to get over them.
You can call someone from the stage and let them tell their story. It makes you interactive, approachable and puts you back in control.
They might make a nasty remark that can create a ruckus around. The best way to deal with it is to take it lightly and acknowledge it.
For example, you can say “That’s a very good point, this fellow has touched upon.”
Or, “Thank you for pointing it out, that exactly is my next point!”
Don’t be shy about telling your own experiences about it. Chances are, many others have gone through the same emotions and experiences. Even if you make mistakes while speaking about it, admit and acknowledge them.
And what’s better? Laugh or crack a joke about it to ease the situation.
Your audience will probably nod in agreement, hoot and support you. When you are in front of unknown people, you don’t know how they might react. But you should know how you can turn that reaction around in your favour. You can’t control reactions, but you CAN control how you respond to them.
Pitch and pace 🎚
When you speak on a topic, you need to have enough knowledge about it. It means adding statistics to certain points to raise the audience's interest.
But they can soon become boring if there are too many statistics without any relation or explanation after them.
You can create excitement and build your case before coming on to a statistic. And not only through words. You can bring a change in your voice through pace, volume, and pitch.
You are speaking on the ill effects of social media on teenagers. Here’s how you can build up:
“90% of schoolgoers spend 4 hours on Instagram daily. Yet, 10% of the Indian population doesn’t know what is Instagram”
You can say that statistic in different ways by adding emphasis on the word that you want.
“TEN PERCENT of the Indian population DOES NOT know what is Instagram! Crazy, right?”
You can change your pitch and volume on these two places to grab their attention back to you.
And, you can also add your own experience right after the statistic:
“But here’s something even crazier - I am one of that 10%, and my younger brother is one of that 90%
Humour and wit 🎭
Humour and wit is the greatest part of speaking in public. It keeps the session fun and the audience learns a lot more by laughing or chuckling at some points.
Even the most mundane of things can come alive when coupled with some wit. Entrepreneurs and startup owners have to conduct many seminars and workshops.
Things can often become too heavy on information, following some daily habits, or how to deal with funding rounds.
But startups also have the best examples of failures. And failures often set the best groundwork for creating humour.
Talk about a failed startup idea. Then talk about how it helped you learn some important lessons in your next idea that brought you here today.
For example, you can start like this:
“I was working in a well-paying corporate job. When one night an idea popped up: what if I create freelancing jobs for everyone and there’s no one left to do a 9-5 job? The next day I resigned and while serving a notice period I started working on my idea.”
After two months of serving the notice period two things happened -
- I lost my job (Obviously)
- I lost the funding for my idea because it was, how to put it simply - a VERY BAD IDEA.
Think about the bigger picture
What if Steve Jobs didn’t lose that boardroom battle with John Sculley that forced him to walk away from Apple in 1985?
He wouldn’t have started NeXT, sold it to Apple, and come back in 1997. He learnt what wasn’t right for him the hard way. But he also learned and honed his CEO abilities with NeXT to come back strong as the interim iCEO.
He had the bigger picture in his mind.
Public speaking is like living your life - you don’t have to do it like others.
And more importantly, don’t worry about what others think of you. Think about what others think about you months or years from now. Focus on the bigger picture.
Focus on the 20 people in front of you. And think about how those 20 people will remember you. So that they can bring 180 people more in the next two or three months.
When you’re speaking on a stage, you’re the leader. Your job is to lead people by bringing value to their lives through your words. Make sure that each word you speak is impactful.
💡 At BBR English, our experts teach you how to focus on the bigger picture. We help you polish your communication skills in delivering presentations through 1:1 Live mentored courses.
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