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"Public Speaking Tips"

Post on: August 20, 2019

You are supposed to do a presentation for your organisation’s Silver Jubilee anniversary. You walked on stage confidently but felt jittery upon seeing the anticipative crowd. You are not alone.

In a survey conducted years ago, it was established that the number one fear amongst the respondents was to speak in public! It was placed greater than the fear of being drowned, fear of height or even being mired in financial difficulties!

So do not fret. It is only normal to feel nervous; however, it’s not the end of the world. Here are some tips to conquer the fear of public speaking…

1. Be cognizant of who you are speaking to and the reason they are hearing you out. If you’re speaking to your friends and family, entertain them with jokes and banters. Inspire and motivate the audience if it encompasses students taking a major examination. Inculcate values if you are speaking to a group who are contemplating whether to sign up for a volunteering stint. Before we prepare our speech, we should understand the demographics and the profile of the attendees.

2. Start with an impactful beginning – narrate an incident which resonates with the audience. Or reiterate an article from the local newspaper which everyone is talking about but giving another perspective to it. Or for the gung-ho, rap some catchy lines which have the theme to your subject. Such a resounding start will captivate the audience and they would be all ears.

3. There are three things to do before you make your way to the podium – 1. Rehearse 2. Rehearse 3. Rehearse. There is no magic wand which makes one speak so impeccably. Practice many times and be creative. Do it while exercising, while washing the dishes and even while watching television.

4. Get the equipment ready before the speech. If you are using the laptop for a PowerPoint presentation, make sure it works and fix it to the projector beforehand. Do a test round. Another important factor is to have notes on hand. This is to play it safe just in case there is a technical glitch. We cannot afford not to give a presentation should there be such an eventuality – be proactive!

5. Do not apologise, yet apologise if it necessitates. It is good to learn the correct pronunciation and nitty-gritty of the subject we are expounding on. However, if we make a minor error, don’t call attention to it. The audience would not have noticed it in the first place. On the other hand, if the mistake is jarring and warrants a correction, please do so. In such a case, you must deal with the mistake head-on. Do not be discouraged even if you have to apologise — one mistake does not ruin the speech!

6. Eye Contact – maintain eye contact with the audience as a whole, not just at one or two persons. The audience would feel you are speaking directly to them. And avoid looking at the floor or ceiling. Bear in mind that the vocal cords may transmit your message but the eyes hold your audience.

7. Visualization – it is a technique used by many people in various scenarios. In this instance, one imagines that he had delivered an awesome speech which garnered much applause from the appreciative audience. Some even go to the extent that they are celebrities giving an awe-inspiring speech with ease. If you visualise yourself as a successful speaker, the chances of you becoming one are more likely.

In the olden days, some of us may have grown up being reminded to be seen and not to be heard. However, without a “voice” may equate to being without power. Do not be disadvantaged! There is strength by showing people how you think and feel. Manifest the ability of your say through public speaking. I’ll end with an emphatic quotation by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”

By Shaji Thomas Varughese

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