Public speaking is the bane of thousand’s of existences. Fashioned in the formative fires of show-and-tell at primary school with the conclusive flourishes coming in boardrooms and theatres across the world, speaking to large groups of people gives pretty much everyone the fear. How to combat that, then? Well luckily there are some pragmatic steps you can take to ensure that even if your legs are shaking, your voice will not be.
Practice Good Posture
Practice is important here because posture is something we become accustomed to as we age. By actively thinking about your back and shoulders you can combat any negative stances you may be used to. Often the urge can be to slouch or hunch into ourselves when we feel nervous but if we fight these urges and keep our shoulders back and our head held high, the confidence to speak will come organically. It also has the added benefit of clearing your airways so you relax your breathing and speak more efficiently.
Not only for dramatic effect, pausing can be used to give you time to quickly gather your thoughts. Not only will pausing help you to feel more confident but also the effect it has on your audience will be a positive one. It wont come across as hesitation and a loss for words (that is if you don’t follow it up with a few ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’). The truth is that pausing gives your audience time to think about what you just said; they will have time to mull it over and form opinions on it. It’s often easier to understand when the information you are trying to get across comes in easily audible segmented parts.
Don’t have a Script
It’s usually the instinct of anyone who lives in fear of public speaking to try and exercise strict control over it, as if it were some unruly animal that needs taming. A script is your way of telling yourself you are unsure. Now while it’s obviously good to keep some notes and perhaps a few visual cues around, augmenting these into an entire script can make you even more nervous, believe it or not. You also risk sounding robotic with no naturalistic pauses or asides to make the speech sound more effective. You will end up focusing on reading the words and your listeners, on remembering the monotone delivery rather than understanding the meaning.
All the best public speakers understand that having a lithe upper body helps to get their point across. Speaking is just one way of communicating information but usually it helps if you use hand gestures in conjunction with your voice. Now obviously it isn’t best to look like a furious football manager on the touchline after his side concedes from a set piece when you’re just trying to tell your colleagues about their sales records this quarter but a quick flourish in the right direction when you hit on key words will go a long way and might rouse those who aren’t paying much attention to the important parts.