Speaking in Public

Public Speaking Guide

First-time public speakers may be gripped by fear at the very thought of standing in front of a large crowd. Physical symptoms can include shaky legs and hands, dry throat, frozen tongue and the worst of all – a blank mind!  You are not alone in this fear. In fact, fear of public speaking, is ranked higher than death in some stress polls!  Most people who become public speakers, have at one time or another been fearful.  Persistence and learning strategies to overcome fear will make you stand out as an expert when it comes to effective public speaking.

Get to know the members of your audience.  If you have done a bit of research prior to your speaking engagement you will have an idea of their average age, education, level of awareness of the subject you are speaking about and so on.  What message have they come to hear?  How have you packaged this message and designed your speech?  Your use of words and expressions are key in imparting the right message at the right time.

Body language is another key area to concentrate on.  Effective public speaking means maintaining eye contact with the audience so that they pay more attention to your speech as they feel personally engaged with you.  If you can, try to maintain eye contact with a member of the audience for 3-4 seconds and then look at somebody else.  This will take practice but will pay dividends in the long run.

Humour will make your speech interesting.  Make sure you use this carefully however, as something you may find funny could upset members of the audience.

How have you organised your speech layout?  Is the beginning catchy?  The main content informative?  Do you end with a stimulating close and call to action where appropriate?  What will your audience take home with them?

Are you prepared?  Have you written down your speech and have you rehearsed it several times.  You can do this standing in front of a mirror, in front of imaginary crowds or by enlisting the help of your friends or colleagues to get some feedback.  Have you timed the speech?  There is nothing worse than thinking you will not have enough material but then actually running out of time to deliver the ‘punchline’ or the ending effectively.  If you are fully prepared your fear and stress levels will drop significantly.  You will also be able to deliver an impressive and effective speech.