Whether you like it or not, it is very probable that during your life you’ll have to speak in front of a crowd. This thought is kinda creepy and I’ll give you some pieces of advice to improve your performance and overcome the natural but useless fear of speaking in public..
A common belief is that imagining your auditorium naked helps. I’ll speak here about an alternative to this – gaining some self trust. The fear of speaking in public has two major causes – you do this for the first time, the fear of unknown and you depend on public’s reactions; you’re exposed. You should overcome this fear by knowing that you’re very well prepared and you’ll be successful.
The first thing you should have in mind is the quality of your speech – you have to say fluently something interesting, different, sustained by evidence. Let’s analyze a bit these characteristics. “Interesting” and “sustained by evidences” refer to the idea you’re exposing, “different” to the structure of your speech, “fluent” to the manner you’re speaking.
I can’t give you the key to a quality speech because there isn’t any. Just be sure of yourself and do your best when you’re writing it. Keep the target in mind – you won’t talk the same to children, teenagers and adults. What’s your target? What’s your subject? Every idea you present is sustaining your main idea? Give two or three examples – stories, curiosities. Link these examples by your ideas.
Now you have the main ideas, the examples, but how are you going to structure them? Make a short introduction; speak about the importance of the subject you’re going to talk about. The public is present there because people are interested by the subject and it’s not going to be very difficult to capture their attention, but you have to keep it, and that’s a bit more difficult. When you have the opportunity, tell a joke or two. Be careful to get back to the subject after that.
Start with the beginning and express your ideas logically. This is very important because you want those people to follow you easily. If they can’t do that you’ll lose their attention. Is you’re time limited? If so, try not to speak more or less than you should. If you have just 10 minutes, pick the most important ideas and talk about them. If you have more time, you should make a quick revision after each main idea to be sure that the public keeps in mind what you’re talking about. The best way to finish you’re speech is to repeat these ideas. Don’t forget to compliment the public from time to time – be thankful for their attention.
But the most important is the manner you’re talking – that’s what makes the difference between a good essay and a good speech. You could have the most interesting story in the world, but if you don’t know how to sell it nobody will listen to it. Here are some important “do”s and “don’t”s. Do look at the public when speaking, do express yourself using gestures, do use different tonalities of your voice, do pay attention to the public reactions! Don’t read your written speech, it’s disrespectful to the public, don’t play with your coat while speaking, don’t use the same tone. This is the most difficult part and you’ll be better after you’ll gain some experience.
Than you have to bond with the public. What is it that you want – to control it or to make it react? My advice is to obtain some minor reactions – laugh, maybe one or two answers from public – to help you have your attention. But be careful! You can lose quickly the control so it’s better not to start a dialog with someone from public.
If you plan to encourage the free speaking it’s better to plan a round of questions than to accept them during you’re speech. Remember – you have to be fluent! You should consider putting two or three people in public to start this round of questions, placing them in different places in the conference hall. Accept questions from different persons and be polite when you’re answering, even if the public’s ideas aren’t the same as yours.
Usually you’re more nervous at the beginning of your presentation so just try to relax. Take two deep breaths and start speaking, remember that you’re very well prepared. Nothing can go wrong. Good luck!