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How to Cope With Public Speaking

How to Cope With Public Speaking

As a broadcaster who’s active on TV and radio, I have seen people sweat and get nervous as they sit and get ready to speak live on air. I’ve seen numerous people feel the rough hands of fear clutching them by the collar once they think about the great multitudes of people who’ll listen to them as they speak.

Their palms would become wet with sweat, their heart would pound with the rhythm of a galloping stallion, and they’d turn a nervous teenage wreck. When they finally open their mouths to talk, their voice would quiver. Some would even have dry mouth, and worse, would be lost for words because they would be overwhelmed with fear.

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Research and studies have, time and again, declared that fear of public speaking is the number one fear.

How to STOP fearing public speaking and do it better.

1. Prepare.

You dread public speaking because you don’t know what to say. Here’s what you should do about it: get a piece of paper and a pen and start jotting down your thoughts on what you’ll chat about. Do your due diligence. I’ll give you the most common and simplest speaking assignment–introducing someone on a podium for a certain event. Wise up. Go talk to the person you’ll introduce. Find out directly who she is and how she wants to be introduced. You will also realize the significant events, achievements, and her credentials pertinent to the occasion she was invited for in the first place. When you do this step, your task is 50% done. Preparation is key.

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2. Psych yourself.

What is the worst thing that can happen if you stand up and talk? You can be embarrassed and booed on stage. That’s the worst that could happen. Unless you will speak about a delicate national issue which is unlikely, that’s the worst malady you could encounter. No one will sue you if you speak in front of a crowd. However, if you complete first tip–prepare–properly, you will never be embarrassed. Convince yourself of this: you will prepare thoroughly, and studiously, and you’ll be effective in your talk. It’s pretty straightforward and simple.

3. Know your audience.

How will you know how to deliver your piece if you don’t know your audience? By all means, get to know your audience. More specifically, aim to be intimate with your audience. Know their eccentricities, their pain or aches, their desires, their longings. What would they want to know, to hear, to talk about? What are their interests? Know their age bracket. Demographics has always been an integral part of discovering your audience, so go and research about it. In fact, from a Marketing standpoint, discovering the most trivial info, like the brand of coffee your customer prefers, is an edge over the competition. This bit of information, if maximized intelligently, will absolutely help you to kill your competitor, and ultimately, make you invincible. Apply this marketing principle in your talk and you will be victorious.

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4. Be an expert on your topic.

Let’s say you are assigned to speak about love. The best thing to do is to recall your own experiences about love. You should also research as many definitions of love you can find. Study them. Then pick instances in your own life and connect them to specific love definitions. Maybe if you are given more time to prepare, you can interview a love expert. That way, you can add all of these bits and pieces to your treasure of love gems. Your goal is to become a love expert before climbing the pulpit. When you finally grab the spotlight, you’ll be ready to rock the house.

5. Visualize.

The fear of public speaking is related to the fear of criticism. This fear is related to the fear of people’s opinions. I have an amusing solution to this. I learned it when I was still in my teens training to become a radio Disc-Jockey. The trick is this: Imagine that you’re talking to a group of people who are only wearing undies. Visualize that scene. I’m pretty sure you’ll be smiling before you open up your mouth to talk. And when you start this way, you will realize that the best way to face this challenge is to not take yourself too seriously. When you are finally up on that stage, relax, take 3 deep breaths, smile and say hello to your audience. If you are still nervous after saying hello, read your first two lines with all the confidence you can muster. After your first two lines, move on to your third and your fourth, and so on. Usually, when you are done with your first ten sentences, you are good as done. Your talk will flow like it’s being delivered by a professional.

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6. Conduct an ocular inspection.

Acquaint yourself with the venue of the event where you will speak. Make an ocular inspection to check how big your venue is. This is a very important step because by knowing the size of the venue, you will be able to decide how big or small your movements will be. If it is a huge hall, you will need to plan to have big hand gestures and body movements. If the size of the venue is like your high school classroom, then adjust accordingly. Just a twitch of your eyebrow will be seen by your audience. A half smile can be flashed to emphasize a point, for instance. If you check your speaking venue first, you will also discover whether you will have the freedom to walk to and fro on an isle, or you will be confined to the stage. These tiny bits of information will spell the difference whether or not, you will have a successful talk.

7. Read, watch, and listen to good speakers.

The Web is teeming with sites, videos, lectures, tutorials featuring great speakers. Allot time to watch and listen to them. What makes them tick? How do they maintain the audience’s interest? What do they do to catch your attention? Do they use humor to fill in gaps when you lost interest on the portion of their talk that is not too interesting? Did you notice that they have arranged the details of their talk in a manner that helps you to easily comprehend the topic and the sub-topics? To make it plain and simple–learn from the great public speakers.

One such speaker who has inspired me in an intense way is Peter J. Daniels. He comes from a disadvantaged background and was challenged with poor education in his younger years. His family was third generation welfare recipients, and he has two brothers who were alcoholics. To make matters worse, a lot of his relatives have been jailed. Consequently, at every grade in school, he failed, so he became a bricklayer. At 26, he was swimming in debt, and as fate has allowed it, in 1959 he attended a Billy Graham Crusade. After this momentous encounter, he went on to build successful businesses and became one of the best platform speakers the world has ever known. I suggest, you check Peter out and learn from the videos of his great speaking engagements.

You have a phobia of public speaking? Fret no more. Review the info above every time you’ll be assigned to speak, and you’ll be ready.

More by this author

Anthony Dejolde

TV/Radio personality who educates about entrepreneurship, productivity, and leadership.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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