The Art of Fearless Public Speaking
Credit: Photo by stumayhew

Talking in front of people, leave alone multitudes, is hard work. Most of us feel anxiety when we learn that some time soon in the future, we will have to do it and as the day approaches, the anxiety could easily turn into panic. But everyday we switch on our TV’s, our radios and there are people there fearlessly public speaking, and they are not very special people. In fact, in terms of intelligence you may be higher on the scale than them.

So how do they become such orators, speakers with great skill? How do they stand in front of crowds and pass on a message that’s clear, distinct and confident sounding? How do they pass on their ideas with so much conviction? It’s simply because they have mastered the art of fearless public speaking.

The first thing you need to understand is that it’s not an easy thing to do for most people, so don’t think that you are beneath standard in any way. It takes some work for people to be able to speak publicly and with confidence and to have people pay attention to them. True, to some people, they are born with this ability. You may have seen that child in a school play that will go through his lines without a stutter and then smile at the end of it all. That’s inborn talent, and some people come with it.

The rest of us have to learn. If you want to understand just how much work a great speech demands for instance, let’s have a look at the American presidents’ speeches of the past. Not all of them have been great orators and this despite one thing: that they have teams, paid teams of people who will work with them to ensure that they get their speeches right. The teams start by getting the presidents’ ideas on what the messages should be, and these ideas are then refined and analyzed in order to make them into a speech – and this is done by professionals.

After that, someone will walk the president through the speech, make sure that he knows its contents and that he understands what he is talking about so that he can have flow. And all the time, there is another team in the background working on cue cards and screens to make sure that on the material day, the president has a place he can look in case he should forget something. And there will even be people in the background telling him when to pause, when to quicken his words, when to increase pitch and all. All this for one speech.

But you are not the American president and you still have to learn fearless public speaking. How do you do it? The first thing that you have to work on is your mind of course. You need to align it to the fact that you are going to be speaking publicly and that there is no need to fear. You will do just beautiful. You need to tell yourself that you will be crisp, concise and clear and that you will hold attention. If you repeat this often enough to yourself and let it sink into your subconscious, the thing that holds you back the most, fear, will begin to dissipate. As you do this, there are other practical things that you can do to make sure that you develop the necessary skills for fearless public speaking. Here are tips, and they are just tips. Explore as many other ways as you can find, because different things work for different people.

  1. Give yourself time

Never start to prepare a speech the night before you’re supposed to deliver it unless you’re a professional orator. Always start a few days in advance. This allows for a couple of things to happen. One is that as you prepare your speech, you get more ideas on what you can say to make it even better. You refine it so that you can end up with a much better sounding speech. The other thing is that it gives your mind time to adjust to the fact that you will be speaking in front of people. Starting the night before doesn’t do this – your subconscious may not absorb it enough, and that will most likely lead to fear and then panic. Start early enough and give yourself time.

     2.     Read about great orators and how they did it

The other day I was reading about 3 great speakers, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy and Barrack Obama. It was an article about what differentiates their speeches from others. They had developed certain skills, through learning, that helped them speak better. They learnt the power of 3 for instance. If you repeat a statement 3 times, do you know that you’re much more likely to have people listening? For example, if you said “Why are you here today? What made you leave everything else you were doing and join us? What made you feel that you could not afford to miss this occasion?” Right away, and it’s scientifically proven, you have people listening. This is as opposed to if you simply said “Why are you here today?” There are specific things that great orators learn over time that makes us listen to them, and you can learn them too. Get materials on how they prepared their speeches, get materials that analyze their speeches and see what it is that they do differently – so you can adopt their methods.

     3.     Practice

By the way, even presidents and UN secretaries have to do this if they are going to give a great public speech. For you, it’s one of the best ways of developing fearless public speaking. Write your speech and listen to yourself give it, then go to the mirror and see how that works out. Call a candid but kind and guiding friend or member of your family to listen and help you fix the parts that need fixing. You will get better each time you go through your speech.

     4.     Be familiar with your material

If you ask a plumber to give a public speech on the leather industry, he would have to do his homework to know exactly what he is going to say. You know how easy it is for you to talk about what you do. It’s because you know it. If you’re not familiar with the material; research, read, and talk to people. Become knowledgeable about your material as in the long run this will help you give a good speech. It means you will  fumble around less and will sound more convincing.

     5.     Lastly, it's just a speech

It’s not the end of the world. You’ve been asked to talk for a few minutes. Don’t take it too seriously – that puts pressure on you for a perfect performance and you know that will make you scared. Relax, know you can and will do it, and however you do it, it’s going to be just fine.

Fearless public speaking usually has to be learnt, but there are many successful students. If you use the tips here, and any others that you can find, and practice using the ways that you learn best, you will soon find yourself able to address multitudes.