There are some students who are afraid of speaking in front of a crowd and then there are others who seems to do it effortlessly. For some time, we have believed that it is purely a skill that some do not have, but there are ways you can teach yourself to become more confident on stage and speak well. These days you find universities adding Public Speaking as a module to the curriculum because they are realising the importance of being able to do public speaking. If you are trying to become better at this, here are our 10 top tips to help you improve.
1. Prepare well
Knowing that you are well prepared is going to ease your mind before you even start. You need all the confidence you can get when you are going to stand up in front of a crowd and provide good information. Do as much research as you can and then gather all the facts you want to include.
2. Write it down
Do not try and just put thoughts together and hope for the best. Write your speech down word for word and stick to it. You may feel like you are a parroting the same words over and over, but this is going to help you flow more naturally when you are doing your speech. Look at a conference paper sample and use it as a guide. Writing a conference paper is more about structure and then you can go ahead and add your own topic information.
3. Practise without reading
Now that you’ve been through your written speech a few times, try and practice it without your paper. You want to be able to go on stage and speak as if you’ve never read it from a piece of paper. It needs to feel as natural as possible. When you are writing exams, you first practise your notes and then you try to remember as much as possible without looking at your notes. Apply the same tactics.
4. Use a mirror or a small crowd
Stand in from of a mirror or a gathering of a few close friends and practise your speech this way. You should pay attention to your body language and hand gestures. Are you giving a positive impression or are you too stiff? Work out everything from when to smile and when to use your hands. The success of your speech is in the small details.
If you get nervous at the thought of being in front of a crowd, try and work on your breathing skills. With everything that makes you feel anxious, it is important to know how to breathe properly because it will calm you down and allow you to get through your words without sounding nervous.
6. Be yourself
You want the audience to connect with you and if you are too stiff, it might be difficult. Your personality needs to shine through as much as possible so just try and be yourself. The audience wants to get to know the speaker and if the speaker is calm and confident, they are more likely to connect with you and give you positive vibes.
7. Have a sense of humour
Tell a funny story and find a way to break the ice as well as that awkward silence. You can mention a personal story that you find hilarious, which makes for a great part of any speech. Just make sure you tell it with a smile on your face and not look too nervous and serious. Go with the flow of where you are in your speech and let it come through naturally.
8. Feed of the audience’s energy
Pay attention to the audience and how they respond to certain aspects of your speech. If you see that they look a bit confused, try and add a little more details in that section. Perhaps the audience really like certain facts and seem to respond well; this is where you allow yourself to stick to those kind of points a little longer. Once you receive those kind of positive vibes, you are able to get through your speech more efficiently.
9. Eye contact
Making eye contact with people allows you to connect better. Do not stare into the sky and hope that this will be over soon. Look into as many eyes as you can and within that moment, you and the individual are alone in the room. This does not only connect with the audience, but in that moment makes you feel like everyone else is not present.
You have to believe that you have it in you to deliver a great speech in front of a small or big crowd. If you doubt yourself before going out, you might lose the battle before even speaking a word. Believe that you are a great public speaker and that everyone is excited to hear what you have to say. By doing this, you are able to get your emotions in check and go out with a less worry.
Do not worry too much about being perfect, but rather embrace the moment and do your best. There is no perfect way of doing anything and you have to accept that. Embrace the silent moments and enjoy the moments of true connection with the audience. It may be a little awkward in some parts but it is how you deal with it that makes you stand out. Prepare, practise and enjoy the process.