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Public Speaking: Overcoming the fear & improving your skills

Mar 19, 2018 15:01 IST
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How to improve your Public Speaking Skills
How to improve your Public Speaking Skills

What is public speaking?

Communication, as we all know, is the basis of our society. It's quite simple actually, to survive and interact with others one needs a common form of communication. Without that, it would be nearly impossible to progress and advance in the world. And 'Public Speaking' is one of the most important forms of communication. It's basically an art of conversing with a live audience. However, it's also one of the most dreaded forms of communication and a lot of people face difficulties and try to shy away from opportunities of public speaking. Which is widely known as the fear of public speaking.

How to know you have the fear of public speaking?

Well, the symptoms are quite easy to spot. Like for one, you try to shy away from any and all opportunity wherein you would have the centre stage and be communicating with an audience. Experiencing nervousness and anxiety before giving presentations, wondering too much about whether the audience will listen to you or not, or even if you would happily trade for backstage work than stand at the podium. Then, you clearly have fear of public speaking. 

Why is it important to overcome your fear of public speaking?

Communication as previously discussed is the backbone of our way of life. We need a means for communicating with other people to share our ideas and theories. However, if you have a fear of public speaking it means that you don't possess strong communication skills. Which ultimately leads to the conclusion that you'll face major difficulties in getting your point across or making people understand your viewpoint. And public speaking is not something that you can just run away from. It's a part and parcel of your life right from the school days to college days to workplaces. You'll need strong public speaking skills almost in every sphere of life. If you don't overcome the fear of it, it can lead to serious complications like suppose, you have this big presentation tomorrow and you practice it all thoroughly. But when you go on stage and see those faces in the audience looking at you and an unexplainable anxiety grips you and no matter how hard you try the words seem stuck in your mouth, they won't just come out or even worse you remember nothing from your preparations. This anxiety is the biggest hindrance between you and your dreams. Overcome it and you have cleared a big hurdle on the road to success. 

So, here are some unique tips to help you overcome the fear of public speaking:

How to overcome the fear of public speaking?

Select a topic you really care about

You cannot speak on the topic that you are not knowledgeable about. So, for starters, if you are lucky enough to speak on the topic of your choosing pick the one that you are really interested in. Also when you are interested in some topic you have an edge as you keeping digging for more knowledge on the subject. You read from as many sources available to you and follow through with the latest developments in the field so you'd be able to speak on the topic from a wide perspective and give better examples or analogies. Lastly, speaking on a topic you are comfortable with will give you more confidence and less likely to be anxious or nervous. However, if you are not presented with a choice research and gain as much knowledge as you can regarding the subject and prepare it thoroughly before the final showdown.

Practice in front of a person

Speaking in front of an audience for the very first time can be quite overwhelming. You are more likely to feel anxious. So, it's best to first test yourself at some mock practice session. Get yourself some audience like family and friends. Imagine that they are your audience and practice speaking in front of them. You might fumble at the beginning and even feel nervous but try to focus on analyzing your mistakes and try to improve upon them. Ask your audience for an honest feedback and don't let your friends and family tell you, that you were great when you clearly did an awful job at it. You could even stand in front of the mirror and practice speaking there.  It's a good thing to do especially when you know your presentation or speech would rely a lot on your body language and other non-verbal forms of communication. But lastly, remember that public speaking is a learnable skill and anyone can master it with enough dedication and practice. If you feel the need you can even take up coaching classes in public speaking there are hundreds of them being conducted these days.

Act Like A Storyteller    

We all make notes, powerpoint presentations, speeches and other written material to help us on stage. But it's important to remember that all that stuff is there just for your reference or to help you point out some facts and such but they are not meant to be plainly read through without any emotion or expression. Try to get involved with your audience, state examples from personal experience, make the session more interactive. Be passionate about the topic that you are speaking as will it also arouse interest in your audience and keep them engaged in the session.

Don’t Stress About Audience Reactions

See a person in the very front row looking all tired, disinterested and probably even yawning well, don't let that affect you. Simply saying don't stress yourself too much over the audience's reaction especially if you spot a few disinterested ones in the crowds of hundreds. Overlook that and move on for there is a good chance that there will always be a few in the audience who are have no interest in the subject but yet have been forced to attend the session under some unavoidable circumstances. So, try not to take someone's lack of interest as a remark of poor performance on your part. However, that's until and unless you are faced with a scenario wherein the ratio of uninterested people to the total audience is more than the interested ones.

A good start is the key to success

A good beginning can go a long way in leaving a good impression on your audience. The first few minutes of your presentation are quite important as almost everyone is keenly interested in the start. So, if you are able to catch their attention during the initial few minutes chances are you'll have it for a lot longer time. While on the other hand, if you lose it right in the beginning getting it back would prove to be a herculean task. So try to make the start of your session interesting and interactive, however, don't try and show off as it would lead to negative results. One of the best ways to capture someone's attention is by making them wonder or making them laugh. Hence, try to start your speech with a provocative question, an amazing fact or a joke.

Life Lessons you learn during your College Days

Know your audience.

Every audience is different and you possibly can't know all your audiences but you surely can derive a common perception about them. Like, for example, an audience of 18-19 year college students is going to be very different from that of working professionals or such. So, it's important that you have some basic understanding of what your audience is and how could you better interact with them. It will also help you understand what are they looking to learn or gain from the session. What are their needs and how could you fulfill them? The point is that your audience would need a reason to hear what you are saying and what better way to figure that reason out than understand the type of audience you'll have and be aware of their needs.

Tips to boosting Self Confidence in college students

To Conclude,

Public speaking is not something that you can run away from. Sooner or later you would be forced to speak with a group of people and address them for some presentation or maybe even in a team meeting sort of situation. So, rather than trying to escape from the problem, face it and eradicate the fear of it. Public Speaking is a skill that can be easily learned with enough dedication and practice so, make sure that you do your best to improve your public speaking skills if you wish to succeed in your career. For the higher you climb the corporate ladder the more you'll be in need of good public speaking skills. We hope that this article will inspire you to work on your communication skills and also provide you with some helpful tools to do so.

DISCLAIMER: JPL and its affiliates shall have no liability for any views, thoughts and comments expressed on this article.

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