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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.

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Anthony Dejolde

TV/Radio personality who educates his audience on entrepreneurship, productivity, and leadership.

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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