By Hanan Awaad
You do not have to be a news anchor to consider yourself a public speaker. When we think public speaking, we imagine a high podium, large crowd and spotlight; however, we engage in some sort of public speaking on a daily basis. We communicate with others in public settings more than we admit. Think of the last time you had to speak in a meeting, a job interview or a party; or conduct a presentation; or to give a lecture to your partner on why they should help in housework; or any other situation when you had to present yourself, your ideas and call your audience for a specific action. Speaking to others is a very important part of our lives, which is why we all – no matter what role(s) we play in life – need to learn and polish our skill to deliver a speech and improve our conversations.
Here are 8 tips, tricks, and techniques on how to awaken the great public speaker in you:
1- Figure out your struggle
It is a common knowledge that people dread public speaking and fear it as much as they fear spiders and death. The start is recognizing when and in which context you use or need to use your public speaking skills. Is giving presentations part of your job? Do you manage conversations with clients or colleagues? Where do you use your public speaking skills? Within a small group where you know each and every one? Or do you speak in front of a large crowd with many people you have never met before? What is the purpose of the speech, presentation or conversation? Is building awareness of a specific matter? Establishing buy-in? Taking a decision?
All these questions are important in understanding the purpose of your speech; zooming in your focus; and designing the right structure of the speech.
2- Understand how you speak
Have you ever listened to the way you speak in a video and felt awful about your cracking voice, and the repeated ‘ummmms’? You are not alone. Even the most eloquent politicians sounded awful at the beginning of their career. Later, by tens or perhaps hundreds of hours spent in one-to-one coaching, they managed to perfect how they use their voices and body language.
If you really want to be a great public speaker, you have to understand your speaking style, your breathing, and your idea processing. By conducting some sort of diagnostic analysis to your speaking style, you can highlight those areas for improvement. You can also ask those who you trust, preferably mentors, to give you feedback on your speaking style and communication skills. You can evaluate your vocal presentation by listening to your recorded conversations or speeches.
3- Learn by observing the best
Not all of us can afford to hire a coach to teach us public speaking, or have the time and effort to watch how-to videos. However, when you observe people around you and reflect on their communication skills, you will gain valuable insights into your own communication style and skills.
I highly recommend watching TED talks; not only you will learn about new topics, but also you will see and listen to those speakers who got an intensive training and coaching with TED organizing teams to perfect their speech and polish their style.
Your superiors, colleagues, friends, and family are great teachers, so, tap into this resource. Whenever you identify something good a beneficial, try it; and when you identify something that is not serving you, stop it.
4- Write it down
Whenever you are in an important situation, prepare well. Write down your ideas and read them out loud to feel how they make sense and flow in harmony. Also, writing your ideas down, will stimulate your visual memory and put your brain to check grammatical errors, ambiguity, and little slip-ups.
5- Check your speed
Do you swallow words when talking? Do you sound monotonous like robots? Do you stress over some words and soften some other words unnecessarily? Do your voice highs and lows make sense?
6- Bring your confidence with you
Even if you have written the best speech ever, when delivered with no confidence it will sound lame, hazy and cold. Think of what makes you feel confident: an outfit, rehearsing your speak the night before, or inner self-talk. Adjust your posture, maintain eye-contact with your audience, and control your breathing, to instantly lift up your confidence.
7- Do not memorize your speech, only the keywords
As it might seem tempting to write and memorize your speech, it is not easy to all of us to do so. A useful trick is to focus on remembering the structure of your speech or presentation and memorize the keywords. Hopefully, you will be talking about something you understood well after doing your due diligence. So, you can depend on your knowledge of the subject and use keywords as posts to remember and manage the flow of your speech or presentation.
I usually summarize my ideas or opinion in three to five points and assign one or two keywords to each point. Some other times, I imagine my presentation like a club sandwich; you need to layer your ingredient to make the perfect sandwich.
8- Get animated, but not too animated.
The importance of the body language in conveying the message is well known; however, many people either over-use it or under-use it. Think of yourself as the conductor that controls the mood of the musical performance with just a wave of his wand. Use your body language to engage your audience not to distract them. Observe what kind of hand gestures you use when speaking. Does your body language match your message? Do engage others or distract them?
Originally posted 2016-03-06 06:58:12.