Some people are born with the innate ability to address a crowd with confidence and passion, and have that audience hang on every word they say. For the rest of us, that is far from the case.
Common problems people face when public speaking include going red, stammering, forgetting their lines, and looking anywhere but the crowd. It’s totally natural to be embarrassed and feel ‘on the spot’ when there are dozens or even hundreds of people staring at you, expecting an inspiring and thought-provoking speech.
Even people whose job requires them to be professional public speakers – like the President of the United States – must be coached on appearing authoritative, comfortable, and in command when they make important speeches.
We’ve put together top tips and advice from expert speakers to help you learn to do the same.
Practice Makes Perfect
This old cliché is a true one. You’ll never become confident enough to speak in front of strangers unless you practice first. Here’s some easy ways to do this:
- Write and memorize your speech – but leave room for some improvisation. You won’t remember your script word for word.
- Film yourself speaking alone in your bedroom, imagining a crowd in front of you. This will allow you to see where your posture and body language needs tweaking, and whether you need to smile more. You’ll also hear where your script doesn’t flow and needs amending.
- Put this to practice with real people. Start small at first, asking parents/partner/friends/anyone you trust to be your audience. Ask for constructive feedback.
- If you’re doing your speech for your job, or for another professional purpose, ask your colleagues or peers to listen to your speech. They can give you additional constructive criticism. The key is to practice in front of different groups of people – some who know you well, and those who are more removed. Each group will provide different kinds of useful advice.
Speak at a Conference
The best way to do anything is to dive in at the deep end. As the Nike slogan goes, just do it; then analyze what went well and what can be improved next time. Take as many opportunities as possible to do what you want to be better at.
held by your workplace, put yourself forward as a speaker. Choose the topic you’re most experienced in, as this will promote natural confidence.
Perhaps you can even organize the conference yourself – this will give you a greater feeling of control over the event and make you want to perform the best you can. There are specialist event management apps available to help you do this, and which encourage people to connect with your event via technology.
Know Your Motivations
Think about WHY you want to be a better public speaker. Is it to progress in your career? To educate people on a subject you’re passionate about? To feel more confident within yourself?
Let your personal motivation push you forward, and always have it in the forefront of your mind when you put yourself out there. If you feel people need to know about your cause, speak with fervor and enthusiasm. If you want to show your boss you have what it takes for a promotion, do your utmost to show you’ve mastered this new skill and want to progress within the company.
You’ll automatically be a better speaker if you put self-consciousness aside and let your ambition and drive take over.
Take Advice from Professional Speakers
- , a consultant for political candidates, advises knowing your audience before writing your speech. Choose language, information and motivational statements tailored to them.
- 44th US President knows the importance of repetition for emphasizing ideas and making them memorable.
- – diving straight in shows your nerves. He also says you should make eye contact with your audience one by one; speak far more slowly than usual; and always thank everyone for listening when you’re done. , a TED Talk presenter with 22 million video views, recommends taking a pause before beginning your speech