Public Speaking Tips

Public Speaking stage

Public Speaking! The idea sends shivers down the back of most Americans. In a public survey that was done it was found that the number one fear of those who reside in the USA was, drumroll please, public speaking. Right behind public speaking was the fear of death. I was shocked to find this out but it is a true statistic that was conducted. Personally I’d rather choose from a list of public speaking topics and prepare a presentation than have to die.

But what is it about public speaking that people fear? Is it the fear of an audience of eyes all focused on one person, you? Or could it simply be that we fear messing up in what is supposed to be a serious and professional act? It’s probably a mixture of these things. And for each person and situation it does differ.

However public speaking is not as scary as we perceive it to be. In fact, most who speak publicly on a structured subject can’t wait to give their next speech. A gratifying feeling can result from those who bury their fear of public speaking and grab the bull by the horns.

Your first experience with public speaking might not turn out to be the professional outing that you had hoped for. Possibly it could even turn out to be a complete failure in your own eyes. Really that is not the case. If you in your own eyes fail completely the only way to go is up. Here’s another public speaking tip. Think positively not negatively about your public speaking. If you can make an improvement in your next speech that’s something to be positive about. Nobody starts as a perfect speaker. Much practice goes into becoming a good public speaker. Many good public speaker’s will tell you they were not born with the gift. It was something that they had to work hard at to acquire.

So the key that we will look to focus on is practicing before you speak publicly. I’m reminded of a former president who spoke publicly and his words seriously were tearjerker’s. How is he able to do this? His secret was practicing his speech over and over again to rid himself of public speaking anxiety. That’s something that all public speakers have to do.

Here’s the goal of our site… Simply put, it’s to help you to master the fear of public speaking and become better at it. You’ll learn things like how to be a master at illustrations. True you or no one else will be able to completely get over the fear or become the most eloquent speaker but by focusing on these elements we’ll be able to control our fear and become even better at the quality of public speaking.

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Winging it: Why public speaking always needs a plan

Think back to when you had to deliver a speech in high school or perhaps even college. Last night’s workload and assignments got the better of you, and time somehow slipped through your grasp and it is suddenly two in the morning. Worse yet, you haven’t prepared for your speech for the following day.

Not to worry, because you’re about to utter the three words that have been around for ages: “I’ll wing it.”

When you were in middle school or high school even, taking center stage in front of the room, minus note cards, paperwork or power point presentations may have sufficed at that educational level. You can only say so much about George Washington or Abraham Lincoln that hasn’t already been said, right?

Most of what you can jog from your memory is satisfactory, but that mentality doesn’t fly nearly as well once you reach college and, more specifically, the working world. Public speaking is easily one of the more feared and difficult tasks that anyone can be asked to carry out.

Even the most prolific and studios of public speakers will tell you that preparation is just as important as poise and delivery when it comes to giving a speech that is equal parts memorable and effective. For reasons unknown, however, the masses might take to public speaking in the office or board room the same way they did in the classroom, and leave their planning on the proverbial back burner.

This thinking hardly would be conceived as advisable.

As taxing and stressful as public speaking can be, you always want to lay out a game plan or outline of how you’d like your speech to be constructed, highlight the finer points of the topic and find a prudent and powerful way to close.

How you determine the parameters of your prep time totally is dependent on the level of understanding you have on your topic at hand and just how comfortable you are speaking publicly. Chances are the latter isn’t your strong suit, so your preparation could consist of practicing the speech in a mirror or simply reading it over several times.

If you’ve just received a promotion, for example, and have been hand picked to deliver a speech to your peers, you may decide to brush up on the technical or finer points, along with practicing the actual speech.

No matter your skill level when it comes to public speaking, practice makes perfect. But don’t overlook the value of preparation as it pertains to feeling much more comfortable while speaking.

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Laugh it off: Speaking publicly needs to be fun first

What’s the first thing a person will tell you when you’re about to speak publicly to a group or in front of a decent amount of people?

“Picture everyone in their underwear.”

That advice probably gave you a laugh but never really took it as gospel when it comes to public speaking, which easily is viewed as one of the harder and more stressful endeavors for the general population.

But expert speakers or others that have stumbled but now flourish with their speaking ability will tell you that the “underwear” advice isn’t all that farfetched or off when it comes to combating your fears of standing in front of an audience and delivering a speech that is mindful, tactful and professionally done.

Behind the advice of picturing everyone in their underwear or staring into the crowd and giving everyone looking at you a tomato for a head makes perfect sense when you get past the silliness. The idea behind this way of thinking simply points to fun as the great equalizer to fluff off any fear you might have about public speaking.

A speech most likely isn’t going to make or break a career per say, suggesting that you probably don’t need to put as much pressure on yourself as you think. Unless you’re about to accept the position of President of the United States of America, you probably could afford to dial down the stress you’re putting on yourself.

The other important aspect of public speaking when it comes to taking it less serious is remembering ultimately why you’re giving the speech in the first place. You clearly were selected for a reason, whether that means you know your stuff or come across to the person that picked you as a competent, well-spoken individual.

You need to remember that as you’re not only writing your speech but also delivering it. The people in the audience are looking to you as an expert, so you can simply rely on what you know, rather than trying to do too much with this lone speech.

What some would be public speakers do is take this honor and transform it into a stressful undertaking rather than just putting together a topic that you clearly know and relaying that information calmly and efficiently, as if you were just talking to a fellow employee or casually with your boss or supervisor.

It’s perfectly fine, as well, to infuse a little humor into your speech but don’t turn it into a standup comedy special, either. Humor often makes the situation of public speaking more stressful because you’re trying too hard to be funny and fail miserably.
Instead, turn the humor around and use the “underwear” mentality and fall back on your expertise. That combination will create an atmosphere that will have you not only speaking well but waiting for the next opportunity to strut your stuff.

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PUBLIC DISPLAY: Dissecting your speaking woes will only help your cause

Everyone knows an all too familiar experience they’ve had with public speaking.

You forgot someone’s name.

You froze halfway through your speech.

You made a few jokes; no one laughed.

Whatever piece of public speaking didn’t work for you, or if you’re just overtly terrified of the act itself, you may find yourself at one time or another faced with this task. And chances are if you’re asked to do it once, you’ll be doing it again.

That fact makes honing your public speaking skills all the more paramount, but you won’t get good or even great at this art form unless you’ve actually paid attention to what you’re doing wrong. Call it giving yourself constructive criticism or just flat out figuring out what ails you and working diligently to fix it.

For example, if you’re last speech tanked because you didn’t really properly pander to the right audience, then that should send you back to the drawing board with plenty of realistic ammunition in mind. Anyone with the knowledge and wherewithal to write a speech about a particular subject shouldn’t lose sight of exactly who they’re speaking to at any given moment.

If you’re working on Wall Street, and consider yourself a top investment person, but you’re speaking to novices in the field, you might want to adjust the speech accordingly. If you’d consider the group colleagues first, then adding some financial jargon is perfectly kosher.

Resting on your acumen in a given subject matter appears to be sound advice but could be trouble if you overlook your audience.

Public speaking ultimately boils down to truly knowing your strengths and weaknesses before you stand in front of an audience and putting yourself in position to use them to their fullest extent. Your sense of humor might not be your strong suit so why piece together a speech filled with jokes? If you know your subject inside and out, use that to your advantage without sounding too robotic and canned as a result.

In any event and a rule that applies to all would be public speakers is to find a baseline or main thesis and adhere to it. Far too many speeches have little or no central theme and instead sound way too random to be coherent.

No matter what your fault is when it comes to speaking public, you’re still fully capable to rectify the situation if you can figure out exactly what’s wrong and work toward fixing it.

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GOING PUBLIC: Is speaking publicly best learned from a coach?

Good coaches make great players, right? But does that same rule apply to public speaking?

That mentality permeates through sports almost exclusively when you think back to that little league coach who taught you how to fine tune your swing or that basketball assistant that transformed your off centered jump shot into something spectacular.

Discussing coaching transitions seamlessly in sports related discussions more so than any other genre. But what about coaching when it comes to something such as public speaking? Is that idea a stroke of genius or an easy way to waste your money on a skill that you can learn on your own?

There’s varying ways to decipher whether your poor public speaking can be fixed by a professional in the same way a football coach helps a quarterback with delivering a tighter spiral. Ironically, public speaking is similar to sports in that both are art forms that take a dedicated pupil and plenty of practice. Some will argue that public speakers, much like athletes, are born with a skill and innate ability that coaching is a moot point; you either have it or you don’t, and practicing on your own is plenty. Coaches might take a different stance, and claim that they can mold just about anyone will desire and the will to achieve into something more than just mediocrity.

Naturally, any coach no matter the forum will defend what they do. And there’s nothing wrong with hiring someone to teach you the fine art of public speaking, but that proposition is equal parts costly and somewhat unnecessary. Public speaking certainly has its finer points, but it differs from sports in one very distinct way.

Sports often is about being the best. Public speaking for the general public is about being good enough to get by, a sentiment you don’t hear in sports. With that, coaching in public speaking seems more like overkill than necessity. Most of what you can learn and practice in regard to public speaking is about picking up the basics and implementing aspects such as standing in front of a mirror, knowing your topic and making sure you’re pronouncing words correctly. Those types of intricacies are more about practicing repetitively rather than having that imparted on you through teaching.

The teaching aspect seems appropriate if public speaking is something you’ll be doing day in, day out as part of your career. That type of pressure and would be poise when speaking should include a professional by your side.

For everyone else, you’ll be just fine flying solo.

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PRIVATELY PRACTICING: Speaking publicly starts privately with exercises

What’s the best method to fine tune any particular method or skill? Practice, of course.

So when you think about public speaking and just how daunting of a task that is to the masses, you can argue that it is no different than working your way toward being a professional athlete or wowing an audience with a magic act or juggling routine.

Simply put, the old adage of “practice makes perfect” applies when it comes to speaking in public. But often when fear supersedes a willingness to even try, practice becomes a moot point. That terror that washes over your entire body before you’re about to speak to the public isn’t something that can go away unless you begin to coach yourself into believing you can accomplish what you thought was impossible.

So, how exactly can that be done? If you aren’t ready to practice a full-fledged speech, try a few smaller, building block type exercises to slowly but surely reach the goal of, at the very least, being competent at public speaking, as opposed to the guy or girl at work that no one is ever going to ask to control the room as part of a meeting.

Public speaking is an essential component for the majority of business people or those who rely on communication skills to better their career standing and eventually move on at their workplace. Being able to effectively do it could be the difference between thousands of dollars a year in your salary.

Even if you hate the idea of learning how to speak publicly, keep in mind the exercises you start to implement isn’t so much about being a 10 out of 10 but just good enough to be asked to lead an important conversation.

What exactly are these exercises? You can cross pushups and sit ups off your list; this isn’t about necessarily shaping and toning your body but rather building confidence and actually learning how to speak aloud. You especially need to understand the difference between projecting and speaking, the latter is something you do at an arm’s length but projecting is the art of speaking loudly and clearly so that your voice carries, but not to be confused with yelling. Nothing gets a speech off to a rockier and scarier start than having someone in the audience tell you to “speak up.”

And as long as you’re learning how to talk louder, you must really rehearse the speech and learn how to pronounce the worlds correctly. If you’re going to quote a Chinese proverb to sound as though you’re intelligent make sure your wisdom isn’t the see through kind.

No one ever expects to be amazing at public speaking, unless of course that is their chosen profession or they’ve tried hard to at least make what they do above and beyond just adequate or passable with just a bit of practice in the form of viable voice exercises.

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DELIGHTFULLY IMPERFECT: Public speaking isn’t about perfection but rather poise

You already know, deep down in your gut, that you absolutely hate the idea of speaking in public. That fear, anxiety and trepidation typically means that you won’t be leading any board room meetings any time soon or freely raising your hand at office as a volunteer to be a keynote speaker, either.

The truth is most people fear public speaking because they’ve only been exposed to speakers that are, quite frankly, nearly perfect in their topic, subject matter, speech writing and delivery.

Think about it, for a second.

Whether you’re watching someone with any sort of speaking aptitude address the media on television or can’t help but pay close attention to a guest speaker you have visiting your workplace, these people have made careers out of knowing not just what to say but how to say it.

You can’t possibly put your limited public speaking experience, crackling voice and hardly taking charge of the room demeanor up against what you know to be the norm as far as public speaking goes.

Then again, no one is asking you to be that good, either.

Far too often, the general public perceives public speaking as something that you either can or can’t do. There is no middle ground, in their eyes.

And that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Public speaking is about playing to your strengths as a speaker. If you’re funny, try to insert a few appropriate jokes into your speech. If you know your topic inside and out, then keep the speech centered exclusively on the matter at hand and don’t deviate from that game plan.

Rarely does a supervisor or small scale group of coworkers anticipate you to deliver the kind of speech that they’ll be talking about for years to come. The typical audience wants to hold onto the subject that is being discussed and take something away from the time they’re listening to you.

And unless you’re having this speech taped to be played for generations to come or are standing in front of an audience of 18,000 people at Madison Square Garden with a wireless microphone, no one is expecting you to flourish and floor the room.

Hating public speaking plays into an apprehension and belief that the art of doing so is a make or break opportunity. For most of us, public speaking is something we have to do from time to time, and should be treated as such. What you shouldn’t do is assume that public speaking is anything more than a task or skill that you need an average level of competency in, as opposed to striving unnecessarily for perfection.

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SPEAK EASY: Why is public speaking so scary?

Public speaking ranks as the most terrifying proposition put on the table, even outweighing death.

For those who don’t mind standing tall and talking in front of a group of people that ranges from a few dozen as part of a sales meeting to professional speakers that deliver the goods to a sea of thousands, the idea that public speaking is scary is hard to fathom.

But the masses would take exception to the minority that barely flinches while taking center stage, and won’t have much trouble expelling the energy to let anyone who will listen know just how nerve racking speaking in public really is.

That still doesn’t answer the question put forth: Why is public speaking so difficult? Is it made out to be more taxing and troublesome then it really is?

Some people do it every day as part of their job and consider it just as customary as brushing their teeth or eating breakfast. For this group, public speaking is commonplace, mostly because they do it all the time.

And that is the key to tackling public speaking and toppling this act as one of the biggest fears put forth to you: practice.

It may sound easier said than done, but the old adage of practice making perfect is rather applicable in this instance. So maybe you won’t necessarily be “perfect” in your first few attempts to conquer this looming fear, but in time you just might surprise yourself.

Practicing when it comes to speaking isn’t quite as broad as the word suggests, but rather can be broken down into several key points moving forward. That includes but is not limited to hours upon hours of prep work, knowing your topic inside and out and even doing a quick scan of the room so you feel comfortable with your surroundings.

If you’d like to get a little more specific, you might want to think about your audience and that your content is in line and appropriate for that particular group.

Those who barely break a sweat when it comes to public speaking practice those aforementioned techniques to the point that they become their pre speech routine every time they hit the podium. The first few tries might be a bit rocky but after time you’ll let your guard down, and start speaking incredibly easy every time out.

You may never reach the status of public speaking professional, but you’ll at least nail it down to the point that you transform from coward to competent in more than just a few tries.

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MEETING ADJOURNED: Honing your public speaking speaks volume as work

Speaking in public often sends shivers through even the most competent employees; even the ones who know their subject matter inside and out but still can’t seem to muster up enough courage to let their intelligence and wherewithal take center stage.
Anyone who specializes in public speaking, more specifically helping those with a bit of stage fright overcome their fear, will tell you that knowing your subject matter is step one toward tackling any inhibitions you might have when it’s time to deliver that sales pitch at work or go over the budget break downs without breaking down in front of your boss.

It’s not uncommon for even the most factually and statistically prepared person to fall flat when it comes to the actual delivery. That’s quite the shame given that they know what to say, but can’t seem to actually find the words.
Beyond preparedness, you can implement a few easy techniques to tackle your fears, and one of those is actually surveying the room and practicing a few lines before the big speech arrives. Getting a feel for your surrounding should help you relax well ahead of time.

And does practice make perfect?

Maybe not perfection per say but it may limit any awkward pauses or you pensively staring into a crowd of people. Truthfully, practicing a speech in a mirror or in the meeting room is no different than studying for a test.

You’ll be able to get a strong gauge of how long your speech is or if you’re in need of a better beginning or end. How are you going to wrap up the speech? Does that mid speech joke really resonate with the overall message?

You certainly don’t want to find out the answers to those questions in the midst of the actual presentation, and it makes plenty of sense to work out all the proverbial kinks well before you go live.

And as long as you’re studying, why not know who you’re speaking too and adding a little dose of humility, candor and respect to the speech. Throw in an introductory greeting that shows class and gratitude toward your audience, especially if members of that group are your superiors.
You may want to leave out the part where you joke about how cheap the company is or that you’ve been working seven days a week on this speech; save that chatter for your peers, not the bosses.

In the event you begin to struggle, keep in mind one key aspect: you know your stuff, otherwise you probably wouldn’t have been put in a position to give an important speech. Let that be your motivation and allow that confidence to act as reassurance that you’re ready to not only able to competently communicate but actually may surprise yourself with just how savvy of a speaker you are.

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BEST MEDICINE: Laughing is cure all when it comes to public speaking

Public speaking finds itself at the very top of lists when it comes to deciphering and deciding what you’re most afraid of doing.

For many, the notion of giving a speech in front full of faces rivals the fear of dying. That says a lot about just how anxious much of the general public gets when it comes time to standing and delivering.

There’s not one set in stone piece of advice that allows you to overcome your trepidations and tear down the house, but there is one that might be the most enjoyable.

Relax and have fun.

You have to convince yourself that you’ve prepared sufficiently, know your subject matter and have an equally competent understanding of the audience at hand. And even if this speech is an important one, you can’t over think the process to the point that the worrying overtakes your experience and expertise.

The speech isn’t so much centering on you as it is the topic as much as whether or not you know your stuff.

Far too often your public speaking fear makes you easily forget that you know what you’re talking about, and should address the group with confidence. A lot of that comes from practice, but you’d be surprised just how far a little laughter, good nature humor and joking can do to preserve your will power and keep the speech fun and your nervousness at bay.

That doesn’t mean you should be writing comedy bits like you’re Jerry Seinfeld or Jimmy Fallon but rather infuse your speech with a more natural, informal deliver that takes the pressure off of an already tense situation.

And that also isn’t a green light, especially if you’re speaking in front of your bosses or a potential client, that you should turn your speech into a comedy special, but rather finding that sweet spot between sincere, serious and relaxing. Too many jokes might be a bit of a turn off, particularly if you’re not addressing your peers. When in doubt, use your best judgment and keep in mind that this speech probably is taking place at your place of employment, and a simple misstep might mean an awkward office moving forward.

Part of the reasoning and logic of making the speech you’re about to give a little lighter is more for your benefit. As long as you feel comfortable, the speech will flow accordingly.

And who knows, you just might have a little fun doing it.

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TAPE DELAY: Practice makes perfect, but variety of videos wouldn’t hurt

Public speaking easily ranks as one of the more fearful endeavors a person can undertake, especially if it isn’t something they do on a regular basis.

Those who only dabble in speaking in front of large crowds or only do some sporadically might be more inclined to fret the days or weeks leading up to the actual speech.

There are plenty of tips that those novices employ but perhaps one outweighs them all.

Let’s go to the video tape. Literally.

Going into an important speech shouldn’t be something you take lightly. That means practice truly does make perfect, but just reciting your lines in a mirror isn’t enough. Speeches rarely turn out perfect, and there’s always something after the fact that you’d like to review, but preparing by actually filming yourself as part of your practice will prove remarkably potent.

Not only will you become more comfortable with your delivery and the overall tone of the speech, but you can pick up on any nuances or facial expressions that might be worth altering.

And when you’re not filming yourself, make it a point to mirror other speakers that you’ve researched and deemed exceptional. Search out some of their better speeches and pick up on their cues and how they deliver a message that is equal parts informative and entertaining.

Pay particular attention to how they intertwine their subject matter with when it add candor or a joke here and there, and how they disperse their eye contact over the course of the entire speech.

Those who are amazingly adept at publicly speaking use video taping as a tool not only to pay close attention to their physical movements and attributes but also to decipher the topic at hand and whether they’re going about their delivery correctly. Knowing what the audience wants comes from not only research and completely immersing yourself in your subject but also preparing wholeheartedly with a beginning, middle and end that fulfills across the spectrum.

You won’t know exactly how well that speech is pieced together, unless you hit the record button and watch it back a few times. It’s about timing and carefully constructing a speech that is more like writing a script or story, rather than words and phrases with no flow.

A big reason some of the best tape themselves is that it is harder to visualize that speech coming together on paper, rather than your eyes paying close attention to what you are doing.

Think of taping your speech the same way actors rehearse lines and participate in various “takes” before they actually nail their part to perfection. No one gets it on the first try on television or in movies, so why take that chance when it comes to your speech?

Speaking publicly is hard enough, and a few dry runs that you can play back and critique couldn’t hurt.

 

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