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Tips on public speaking

Some people would rather have the flu than speak in public. The thought of standing in front of a bunch of people is enough to give them endless sleepless nights and make their stomachs turn. If you fear public speaking, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

There’s a point in everyone’s life where they’ll find themselves in a position where they’ll have to give a speech. It could be giving a toast at a wedding or doing a presentation at work. Your knees may tremble and your palms may sweat and you could wonder how you’ll get through an entire 20 minutes of speaking. But with the right tools, you could give a speech that could get you a standing ovation.

Here are six ways to improve your communication skills.

Eye contact

They say you should imagine your audience is wearing nothing but underwear to ease your nerves and help you look in the eyes of everyone in the room. Whether you choose to use this trick or not, just remember looking people in the eye is a powerful tool you could use to engage with your audience. When your eyes wander around aimlessly or you constantly look at your notes, it shows you’re unconfident and uncomfortable. If you’re nervous about looking at people straight in the eye, focus on other parts of their face. You could look at their lips or their nose.

It’s not about you

Lisa Kirk was an American actress who was quoted as saying, “A bore is one who talks to you about himself and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.’ It’s not about you, it’s about your audience. Cater to your audience’s needs and that will create a desire for the product you’re trying to sell. Ask them questions throughout your presentation to keep them engaged.

Preparation

The term for the fear of public speaking is glossophobia. And the best way to overcome your fear is to prepare in advance. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.The more in control you feel, the more you’ll be able to give an outstanding speech. If you’re unprepared you’ll be all over the place and you may forget important points you wanted to make in your speech. Your speech should flow and if you’re not fully prepared, you might find yourself fumbling through notes and adding ums and ahs to fill in the gaps.

Interesting content

During your last presentation, your audience could have started yawning, scrolling through their phones or looked at you with blank stares. This could be because maybe they were tired or your presentation was too long and bland. People have a really low attention span, which is why you should make sure your content is interesting and straight to the point.

AIDA is a term used in marketing that stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. You could use AIDA to create a presentation that’ll draw the attention of your audience. Graphs, illustrations and captivating stories will create a desire and interest for the product you’re trying to sell. Short videos are also a powerful tool to send a message across to your audience and they make your presentation stand out. There‘s a reason why YouTube is a success, it’s because people love videos.

Toastmasters

Practice makes perfect. No one has mastered a skill overnight, it takes practice, dedication and perseverance to conquer anything you want in life. Toastmaster is an educational organisation which was established to help people improve their communication skills. It’s a perfect way to meet people and learn to be a strong communicator. And it’s also a safe zone because you’ll meet other people like you in the meeting. Toastmasters will help you to ease into public speaking through your own pace. On the first day, you may be so nervous that all you can utter is, “ Hi, my name is Sam.” But after much-needed guidance, tips and tools you’ll be a pro in no time.

The truth will set you free

Watching yourself on video could be painful. But recording yourself is a good way to analyse all your mistakes and to find ways to improve them. For example, you’ll be able to see if you look down a lot instead of engaging with your audience.

Some people have the gift of the gab and speaking in public comes naturally but for some, it’s a hurdle they struggle to overcome. Learning to speak in public should be a skill learned by all individuals because you never know when the opportunity will present itself. Whether you have studied marketing or an hr management course, you’ll probably need to speak in public at some point. Public speaking can be challenging for you but by following these simple steps you can be good at it and you may even grow to love it.