For some people, public speaking is no big deal. For others, having to speak at a public forum can be their worst nightmare. There are people who just jot down some notes and can wing a speech like it’s nothing, and there are those who sweat it out for weeks, planning and re-planning until they have it perfected.
Then, there are the people in between who give speeches so frequently, that they seem like naturals, but are really quite shy in any other setting. In fact, many people who can give perfectly polished, charming and funny speeches are introverts and are totally different when you encounter them in any other forum! So, what’s their secret? How do they project that smooth confidence in front of a large crowd when they’d much rather be hiding in the corner? How do they engage their audience while conveying such powerful messages?
In the world of business, most of us will inevitably be faced with the opportunity to speak publicly at one point or another. For some of us, these opportunities are exciting and thrilling! For others, while being asked to speak is an honor, it may ignite a feeling of serious fear and dread. No matter which type of person you are, following these tips will help you to deliver a captivating and inspiring speech!
- Prepare. The best way to calm your nerves is to prepare the best you can before your speech. Obviously, this includes writing and revising what you are planning on saying. In addition, you can research your audience. Know who you are going to be speaking to. If you are super nervous, you can also research the building or visit the auditorium. Sometimes resolving the unknown helps to calm anxieties.
- Practice in the mirror. It is a great idea to practice giving your speech in the mirror so that you can pay attention to your facial expressions. Wouldn’t it be terrible if you were making crazy facial expressions during your whole speech and you didn’t know it?! You can also practice your hand gestures for emphasis and work on your eye contact by practicing in a mirror.
- Turn those nerves into excitement! Try to stop your negative thoughts dead in their tracks, and turn them into positive ones. Being asked to speak is an honor. It means you have something of significant value to offer and you have been chosen out of many others to share your knowledge with people who want to learn from you!
- Dress up. If you want a super easy way to boost your confidence, dress your best the day of your speech. Nothing makes you strut your stuff quite like a suit or dress that fits just right.
- Breathe. Take ten deep breaths before you go on stage. Inhale deeply, hold your breath for three seconds, then exhale completely and repeat. Deep breaths are believed to decrease anxiety, control panic attacks and promote mindfulness.
- Slow it down. Don’t start talking immediately when you walk out on stage. Many people do this out of nervousness and it results in frantic, scattered blurbs of speech. Walk out calmly, smile, gather your notes and your thoughts and speak when you’re ready. It may feel painfully awkward and drawn out, but it does not seem that way to your audience. To them it seems as though you are in complete control.
- Connect. Make sure to connect with your crowd by making eye contact with individual audience members. Don’t get lost in your notes the entire time; it feels disconnected and unauthentic.
- Stay positive. Stay optimistic no matter what. There may be some people in the crowd who will make faces or shake their heads at certain things that you say. Don’t pay them any attention. Instead, focus on those who are showing their support. In addition, if you fumble a word or get lost for a moment, don’t dwell on it. Brush it off or even make a joke out of it and quickly move on.
- Ask Questions. A great way to engage your audience is by asking questions. You can frame certain aspects of your speech into questions instead of statements, which will prompt the crowd to connect with you more easily. They may not answer, or you may just ask rhetorical questions, but asking questions still prompts the audience to relate.
- Be thankful. Always thank your audience at the end of your speech. They took the time out of their day to hear what you have to say and you should be appreciative of their time. Remember to be grateful that you were chosen to share your wisdom and experience with others. It really is an honor.
Remember, you were chosen to speak for a reason. You have already proven yourself worthy. Just keep these tips in mind for your next speech and never let ‘em see you sweat!