Stage Fear : A lot of us have it. Not being good at public speaking by birth does not make you weird or less talented. Many of the renowned orators across the globe often start their story with “I wasn’t always good with large crowds…”. Public speaking is a skill that has to be studied, noted and nurtured. It is a talent that, if understood and truly enjoyed, can be developed by anyone and everyone. And that’s the beauty of it. This article will help you improve public speaking and master this crucial act.
To kick-start this guide with some motivation, here are three of my favourite modern public speakers:
1. Barack Obama, 44th U.S. President
When Mr. Obama speaks, whether you’re a supporter or not, you can’t help but drop everything and just listen. Obama has conviction in his tone, confidence in his words and power in his speech. Whether it’s on national television or addressing a live crowd of millions, he never lets fear get the better of him.
Fun fact: For most of his early years, Obama suffered from stuttering (or stammering) and was never given the chance to speak to an audience in school because of it.
Watch his speech which made him The President:
2. Ellen DeGeneres, Talk Show Host and Producer
What stands out the most about Ellen is her spontaneity, witty humour, and straightforward thinking. She says what she means and means what she says. Probably one of the most influential women in the world, Ellen is still humble but firm in her presence. She is always smiling and never forgets to make a connection with the crowd.
Fun fact: Ellen was often dissed for having a “manly” appearance and this caused her to have stage fear till she was almost 30 years old. This, later on led her to start her own TV show.
This is one of my most favourite “Ellen Speach” and you must watch it. See the use of humour to connect to the audience:
3. Narendra Modi, Current Prime Minister of India
The best thing about Mr. Modi is that he never backs down. Always full of passion and energy, his words are as impactful as the message he puts across. His speeches draw the attention of millions of people all over the world, as he leaves no stone unturned to leave his mark on his audience.
Fun fact: Mr. Modi has confessed that although he writes down his speeches, when he gets on stage he often keeps the written speech aside and decides to go impromptu, i.e., he speaks on the spot!
Here is Narendra Modi addressing the American-Indians at Madison Square Garden. This speech made him the world leader he is today:
Luckily, good public speaking is something that can be developed, with the right tips, of course. Here’s how:
1) Write It Down
You could do so either in a notepad or on your phone. Especially the key words and points, once they’ve been jotted down, will be easier to reference and access in case you don’t have the best memory. It’s a proven fact that writing down an idea or thought just as you have it is the best way to never forget it.
2) Rehearse It
Maybe in front of a mirror or a trusted friend. This helps you to not only get your words in place, but also work on your body language and posture. Good public speaking is not just about the right words, but also about the right posture and presentation.
3) Smile! 🙂
It helps, always. No one wants to see or listen to a grumpy person on stage. If you’re smiling while public speaking, it creates a positive vibe that reflects onto your audience as well. You will instantly notice that they are more alert and interested in what you’re saying because now you’ve made a good connection with them.
4) Know Your Audience
It’s always good to know your audience, or at least have a brief idea of the type of people you’re going to be speaking in front of. This helps you formulate a plan in terms of what to say, how to say and also what not to say. If you say things that might offend your target audience, you know you’ve started your own downfall. Ignorance is not always bliss!
5) Say Bye To Those Nerves
Get rid of your nervousness, or you’ll find yourself fumbling on stage and hence, forgetting what you have to say. Take the help of a friend or relative to do this but, make sure you are not a nervous wreck when it’s your turn on stage. A sweaty, shaky orator is only going to grab attention for the wrong reasons, making public speaking a rather disastrous affair for him/her.
6) Move Around
If it’s the kind of audience you’re comfortable with, try to move around the stage with your mic and don’t constrict yourself to one place, i.e. to a podium or a mic stand. This gives you an informal edge and also helps you feel at ease with the crowd. You do not want to seem stuck up or robot-like when you’re talking to your audience!
7) Groom Yourself
How you look, which is basically your attire and grooming, are also just as important as your speech or material that you are presenting. A shabby orator can often put off the audience and fail to gain their positive attention. Someone who is presentable to look at is sure to grab the attention of the people he/she intends to talk to.
8) Humour Is Good
Even if the topic you’re presenting on is a rather serious one, it’s important to bring in a few light elements with a joke, quote or anecdote in your speech. Of course, you have to keep the tone and basic code of conduct in mind whilst doing so. However, if you get a knack of the technique, a few easy going moments throughout your speech will ease things out for both you and your listeners.
9) Maintain Eye Contact
And finally, it’s very important to always maintain eye contact with the audience and not look down at the ground or anywhere else, because this would make you seem distracted or disinterested. It’s also vital to never show your back to the crowd and always talk to them face-first. By looking at them directly, you’re establishing a more personal connection which will prove to be very helpful.
With the help of these quick tips and of course, the right determination and focus, becoming a better speaker is a possibility that you can look forward to!
And don’t forget to invite us to your next speaking event. 😛