(Tips) Become a powerful speaker

Become a powerful speaker

THE fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias. No matter how effectively you visualise the crowd wearing only their underwear, traces of fear still remain for just about everyone. How do people effectively overcome that feeling of being tongue-tied and frozen when stepping up to speak to a group?

The fear of being judged, making a mistake, not measuring up, getting hurt mentally or physically can get in the way of a good performance (speech, seminar, sales presentation, etc).

Remember that people in the audience really want you to succeed. Nobody is standing there hoping you will be boring or bad. If you are coming from an authentic place, and you cover the material with clarity, you have won three-quarters of your inner battle with fear.

* Create Confidence in Yourself

The more sure you are of yourself, the less fear and hesitation you will exhibit when speaking in front of a group. When you know what you are saying has merit and the reason you are speaking publicly is because others want to know what you have to say, that will help to inspire your confidence. Remind yourself that you have something to share, and it doesn't matter if your knees shake and you stammer once or twice - if you don't make a big deal out of it, it is unlikely that anyone else will either.

The more you develop your own self-image, the more you can see that others are interested in your opinion. Remind yourself in your self-talk of all that is motivating you to go up and speak publicly. Remember even if you are just addressing a few colleagues that your opinion is being sought - which already means they are giving you a vote of confidence!

* Release Your Tension

Before going in front of the people you will be addressing, do everything you can to relax. Any technique that you typically use to calm and center yourself (such as deep breathing, visualisation, self-talk, or Tai Chi) can be used to help lower your heart rate and calm your nerves. Do not drink excessive amounts of caffeine.

While you will want to be alert, you do not want to be fidgety or in need of a bathroom. The classic "picture the crowd in their underwear" suggestion can help as well. It takes your mind off the task at hand and lets you put the audience in a different position psychologically; as you see them as harmless instead of something to be feared.

* Do Your Research

When you need to speak publicly, the more confidence you have in your material, the easier it will be for you to relax when discussing the subject matter. Take extra time going over every point to ensure that all your material is well-researched. Organise everything that you want to say in a logical fashion. Anticipate likely questions that will be asked, and give preliminary answers while you are speaking. Make sure that your research is broad enough so you will be able to answer most questions confidently. When you make the notes you will refer to, make sure that they are legible in the speaking situation. Nothing will derail your confidence faster than not being able to read all the fantastic research you have done.

* Practice, Practice, Practice

Just as any performance, public speaking requires practice. When you have to speak, take the time to rehearse. If you have access to willing humans, they are the best practice partners because they imitate the situation. If not, an audience of the canine, feline, or stuffed animal variety will work. Take your speech or presentation in front of a mirror.

Work on looking as confident, articulate, and professional as the words you will be delivering. Use your self-talk techniques before you practice, and if you have recruited a practice audience, ask for their feedback. Lather, rinse, repeat until you are speaking eloquently and confidently and you can visualise your audience's positive response. Soon you will find that public speaking isn't the ogre that you feared, but it can in fact be a highly rewarding and enjoyable experience!


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