We humans are afraid to die. But interestingly, most of us fear public speaking more than death! True story. Search it up on Google and have a good laugh!
So why do most people fear public speaking? Well, I would like to think that it has to do with the environment we spend most of our time in. Most of us were not given a platform to express ourselves openly when growing up. Unless you did speech and drama, or some other performing arts that gave you the freedom to express, you probably already dislike the idea of being in front of an audience. The biggest fear that most of us have when speaking in public is the fear of appearing fearful. We also spend a lot time thinking what others would think of us when we’re up on stage. “Will they judge me?” Of course they will! But don’t let that stop you from becoming better at public speaking!
While billionaire Warren Buffett has always been known as an astute investor, what most people don’t know is that he terribly feared public speaking. Buffett actually attended the Dale Carnegie public speaking course. The course was a good platform for Buffett to hone his speaking skills in a low-stake and encouraging environment. Buffett believes that public speaking is the single most important skill that one could have to increase its value. People who have the flair for public speaking are usually seen as more capable employees in the workforce.
If the billionaire investor emphasizes on public speaking skills, I am sure it is really important for us all to be adequately competent in it.
Being a Toastmaster, freelance host, actor and ex-radio presenter on campus, here are some tips I’d be sharing with you to help you take the first step up on that stage.
Be prepared. You can never be overly-prepared for a speech. Practise your speech as much as you can, preferably in front of a mirror. Just make sure you focus on delivering your speech naturally and not as if you memorized a script.
Breathe. Actors and singers are trained to breathe correctly, such that they can maintain high vocal energy without running out of breath. Public speaking is an intense exercise for your respiratory system. Don’t let your nervousness stop you from breathing deeply and projection your voice clearly and loudly.
Gesture. Great speakers always make full use of their body to communicate. Let your body take up the space on stage. Gesture with your arms and move your torso when you need to make a point or to demonstrate contrast and variety. While you should be moving around the stage during your speech, do not pace back and forth excessively as it could be distracting for your audience.
Use vocal variety. Nobody likes listening to a monotone. Always vary your tone of voice, according to the context of your speech. Tune in to the radio and learn how radio presenters speak. They’re so good at making a simple talk set sound so amazing.
Articulate. Do not chew your words. Pace yourself and speak at a comfortable speed. Make sure you enunciate every syllable. Record yourself speaking and analyse your pace, rhythm and articulation.
Yours truly at a humorous speech contest.
Start paying attention to these 5 things and you should start becoming a better speaker from today! I also recommend joining a Toastmasters club near you where you can practise speaking in a non-judgmental and encouraging environment.
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Till next week, have a good weekend!