For many people the fear of speaking in public is second only to the fear of dying. Don’t let this put you off: Giving presentations, speeches and talks is an effective and valuable undertaking to promote your business and generate leads. It raises your professional profile, too, and can help you become an expert in your field.
Remember that few people start out feeling comfortable when speaking in front of an audience and that avoiding a situation only makes it worse. Through practice and experience you will feel more at ease eventually. If you want to become a better public speaker you have to get out there and do it!.
1. Seek speaking opportunities
It does not always have to be a professional speech. You can practice speaking in public by giving a talk at a local club or society, becoming a volunteer guide, running an exercise class, joining a drama club or attending Toastmaster UK meetings.
2. Listen to other speakers
We learn a lot unconsciously by listening and watching. Therefore, take some time to listen to speeches, but rather than focusing on the content, pay attention to the way they are delivered. You could note down useful phrases and ideas but do not over-analyse.
3. Train your voice
Training your voice will improve accuracy and clarity of your speech. You can do this by playing word games, practicing tongue twisters, learning voice warm ups, and joining a choir. There are books on voice coaching and if you are really keen, you could hire a voice coach.
It pays off to have a dry run (or several) with family members, friends, trusted colleagues or a professional public speaking coach. This will allow you to receive constructive feedback from people who are supportive, check timings, and familiarize yourself with the use of props. Another way to rehearse is to record yourself. Many of us dislike hearing our own voice but it is an extremely effective exercise.
5. Keep it simple
They say if you cannot explain your topic to a five year old then you do not know your topic well enough. In other words, simplify the content to extract the essence. Get to the point. Avoid jargon. Use plain language. Follow a clear structure. Do not get lost in details. Be enthusiastic. Getting your message across is the most important thing about your presentation, so do not lose sight of it when the next speaking opportunity arises.