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11 Things Eloquent Speakers Don’t Do

11 Things Eloquent Speakers Don’t Do

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 March 30, 2020

        What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

        What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

        Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

        You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

        This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

        What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

        According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

        Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

        There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

        How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

        When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

        Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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        1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

        One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

        The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

        Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

        2. Be Honest

        A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

        If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

        On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

        Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

        3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

        Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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        If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

        4. Succeed at Something

        When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

        Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

        5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

        Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

        Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

        If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

        If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

        Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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        6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

        Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

        You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

        On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

        You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

        7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

        Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

        Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

        Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

        When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

        Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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        In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

        Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

        It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

        Final Thoughts

        When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

        The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

        Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

        Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

        Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

        More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

        Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
        [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
        [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
        [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
        [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
        [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
        [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
        [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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