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11 Things Eloquent Speakers Don’t Do

11 Things Eloquent Speakers Don’t Do
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We’ve all experienced stage fright and can likely relate to Eminem’s song Lose Yourself: “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy” (I hope you didn’t have the same sweater problem like he did in the song). In many ways eloquent speaking has a lot in common with rapping. It is not as outwardly rhythmical – not that it lacks rhythm – and you don’t get a beat to cover your mistakes, make you more colourful and keep your rhythm steady.

Talent is one thing when it comes to public speech but people tend to forget it is a skill more than anything else. A lot of people don’t even allow themselves to visualise a situation where they are addressing a crowd for fear of exposure. Still, being able to hold an audience’s attention is a much desired skill for professional situations as well as personal social situations. Here are a few don’ts which you can avoid in order to help you boost your public speaking skills and conquer your fear of the stage!

1. They don’t rush things

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    When panic strikes everything speeds up. Your heart rate goes up, you start shaking, a million thoughts go through your head and you start to speed up everything that you do. This means that you start talking faster than usual without being aware of it. By being aware of the jitters that they experience before going on stage, professional speakers deliberately slow down to the speed at which they talk in order to avoid blabbering, stuttering and losing their flow.

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    2. They don’t allow negative thoughts to control them

    Over thinking is a very common problem these days and you can easily be spiralling into a self-induced state of panic if you let your mind wander. By focusing only on the reasons why and the possibilities how you are going to fail a certain endeavour, you can provoke a very real fear. Even though the situation is not that challenging, you are still going to perceive the negative potential of the situation since that is the only thing you are focusing on. Public speaking doesn’t necessarily need to be viewed in that classic “politician to the crowd” sense, it can also be a required skill in the office environment. This can be difficult for a lot of people to achieve and is why there is so much talk about creating a stress free office environment. Basically, it means better communication and organization.

    Instead of doing this, attempt to hype yourself up. Try to visualize the whole thing as a sports match and set yourself into that winning mentality. I don’t mean a professional sports match, more like something you play against friends and you go in with that winning mentality that comes easily and naturally, since there is no pressure. This “I can do this” attitude may seem tacky, but it works and can help you channel that excess energy you get when panicking.

    3. They don’t take the approach of a sales person

    Salespeople have a specific oratory style which works for some situations. The first thing that comes to my mind as an example of this is the way a used cars salesman addresses a customer when trying to sell a car. Now, if you want to be an eloquent speaker, you need to steer clear from this “style”. Depending on personal preference you can attempt to be more than a few things and find your perfect fit. You can attempt to be entertaining, charming, interesting, or inspirational but never allow yourself to get into a situation where you come off as someone who is attempting to make money from the people you are addressing.

    4. They don’t avoid eye contact

    When people are performing in front of a large crowd (remember that speaking is a performing art) they tend to avoid making eye contact with people in an attempt to depersonalize the situation. Yes, it is true that you can lower your stress levels by focusing on a faceless crowd and this can work for some performing artists – let’s say a guitarist – but the nature of the situation you are in requires you to make eye contact with the people you are speaking to. According to Forbes it is one of the worst body language mistakes you can pull off! It is only the polite thing to do and it helps you establish a better connection with your audience. After all, this is a dialogue between you and your audience and you need to establish this dialogue.

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    5. They don’t focus on negative people in the crowd

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      The reason a lot of people avoid eye contact with people in the audience has a lot to do with their fear of finding people who are outwardly showing signs of disapproving what they are saying.  What do you do when you run into people like that? Well, nothing, you merely skip over them and focus on those who are saying “Yes” instead of “No”. Draw your energy from them and keep them with you. There are always going to be people who disapprove and if you chase for everyone’s approval you are only going to put yourself down.

      6. They don’t forget about their accent

      If you are not a native English speaker, then you are bound to have an accent (even if you are a native speaker, you likely have distinctive pronunciation habits). The accent isn’t something that you should be worried about if your grammar is decent, but your accent can be hard to decipher for people that have never heard it before. This is why speakers tend to make a short but slow-paced introduction in order to let their audience adjust to their accent. The human ear is a very capable instrument, but it needs a bit of time to make the adjustment, so don’t rush things so you and lose your crowd through most of your introduction while they are still adjusting to your accent.

      7. They don’t forget to breathe

      When in state of panic, our body tends to tense up and our muscles tend to contract. The same thing happens to people who have anxiety. Their body tightens and they forget to breathe which makes them panic even more. They start to stutter and panicked thoughts keep running around their head and they break down. The most basic way is just to always remind yourself to breathe. When speaking in front of a crowd, get on stage, take a couple of breaths and compose yourself before you start talking. Don’t worry, your audience will wait for you and remember that you have control of the situation, so if you need a couple of seconds to catch your breath, take them. It is far worse to elevate your stress level and start losing your flow.

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      8. They don’t focus on a repetitive motions

      Again, repetitive motions like foot tapping, hand and fingers cracking and similar automatic movements are some of those nifty tricks our body uses to get us ready for those fight or flight situations and again, is absolutely useless to us in these kinds of situations. Even though it might seem natural satisfying this urge, it won’t help you feel any better. Quite the opposite, it will make you feel even more under pressure. Furthermore, this is a very outward sign of nervousness which everyone can recognize, which can ruin the credibility of what you are saying. Pacing falls into this category as well, because losing control of this can make you winded, which will definitely influence your diction, your phrasing and so on.

      9. They don’t miss the tone of the subject matter

      Missing the tone is something that can turn into a very awkward situation, but in most cases, it isn’t hard to do. Don’t drag humour where it has no place and strive to show respect to serious things. On the other hand, if your goal is to inspire people, don’t make your tone flat and boring. Rise to the excitement level contained in the words you are vocalizing. Professionals play with tone in order to provoke a more dramatic reaction, but first, you need to be comfortable with the subject matter and be able to find its most natural tone. Then, and only then should you try to experiment with tone. Don’t try to run before you can walk.

      10. They don’t forget to research their audience

      You need to be able to adapt. Not every environment is the same nor are the customs and social norms, so you need to be aware of what is considered polite behaviour and who are the people that you are going to be addressing. This is the same for online mass communication, which sounds complicated, but it’s basically knowing the basic customs when addressing people on Facebook. Similarly, you need some time to adjust to the particularities of a social network and you need to devote some time to finding the right approach for a particular audience.

      11. They don’t EVER forget to show gratitude

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      Gratitude Cicero quote

        People’s attention is a gift and you should thank people for it. Somebody took the time to give you a shot to do your thing and this is an amazing gift. If you take it as a given, you are actually being very rude. Furthermore, people tend to remember and react to polite people better which is essential for good speakers to be remembered.

        Self-control is a bit of an issue with public speech and it is a craft you need to spend your time and your attention on. A bit of talent and a lot of hard work, mixed with productive and immersive practice sessions leads to perfection.

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        Aleksandar Ilic

        Blogger, Social Media Butterfly, Guitarist

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        Last Updated on July 20, 2021

        How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

        How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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        You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

        Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

        Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

        Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

        1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

        According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

        “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

        Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

        Warming up

        If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

        If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

        Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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        1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
        2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
        3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

        Stay hydrated

        Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

        To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

        Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

        Meditate

        Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

        Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

        Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

        Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

        2. Focus on your goal

        One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

        Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

        Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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        Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

        If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

        3. Convert negativity to positivity

        There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

        ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

        It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

        Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

        Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

        Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

        4. Understand your content

        Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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        However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

        “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

        Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

        Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

        One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

        5. Practice makes perfect

        Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

        In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

        Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

        6. Be authentic

        There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

        Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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        Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

        To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

        With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

        Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

        7. Post speech evaluation

        Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

        Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

        We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

        You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

        Improve your next speech

        As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

        Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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        • How did I do?
        • Are there any areas for improvement?
        • Did I sound or look stressed?
        • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
        • Was I saying “um” too often?
        • How was the flow of the speech?

        Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

        If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

        Reference

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