What is public Speaking? Standing in front of an audience? Addressing a huge crowd? Speaking to a few people on the bus?
Yes to all of the above. Mention this to individuals like you and me and suddenly those two words create a picture in our mind.
Martin Luther King addressing the crowds
Mahatma Gandhi speaking to His followers
Adolf Hitler rousing his troops.
All these speakers had one thing in common …
… passion – in abundance.
And yet, as we gaze upon these great orators of our time the voice in the back of our mind tells us ‘I could never do that’.
In the majority of cases, you would probably be correct. But why would you want to do that? Do you ever have the need to rally your troops? Shout out the words of peace and freedom so that others will follow? Ha! Probably not.
There are times, however, when we might need to raise our voice to be heard. What about speaking in the Parish Council Meeting? How about standing in front of the office or your boss to deliver a presentation? Or speaking to a group of people with something you have a passion about.
That’s Public Speaking.
The words give us the impression that we are standing outside speaking to the public, but it can be any occasion where you might need to address an audience.
Some years ago, a survey was conducted amongst the business community where they were asked ‘what fears do you have?
Amongst the answers were fears from bugs, snakes, and animals, drowning, heights. At the top of the list – public speaking. The majority of respondents would rather die drowning than stand in front of an audience to tell us why!
Speaking in public
These are among the findings of the Chapman University Survey on American Fears, which gave us these surprising results.
How ridiculous is that? I’m sure a lot of it was tongue in cheek and lots of press inches probably put a spin on it however, it still highlights one thing. People don’t like standing in front of an audience and opening their mouths.
Why do you think this is? The mind plays tricks and tells us we are scared. What will people think of me? Will I dry up and forget what I was going to say?
Let me put your mind at rest.
Of course, you may be a little scared but what’s the actual worst thing that can happen to you? Certainly not death!
If you ever hear a speaker say that they are never nervous when they address an audience then I’ll show you a liar. Everyone gets nervous but nerves can be controlled. In fact, nerves can be a good thing. Nerves can keep us on our toes. They can focus the nervous energy and direct it to your enthusiasm.
Top tips for public speaking
Let me share with you a couple of tips to help you overcome your fear of public speaking.
First and probably the most important – Breathe!
I have seen speakers start a speech from their chair when they are introduced, and they forget to take a breath when they are at the front.
Tip – Just pause, think, and breathe deeply – then speak.
Second tip I can give would be to make sure you know what you are going to speak about. Write it down, practice, practice the beginning, practice the ending so you can make sure you have a powerful finish.
Some coaches tell you to imagine the audience naked, but my advice is don’t do this it can be an unwelcome distraction. Better to go on and speak. Bear in mind that only you know what you are going to say. The audience doesn’t. Say it with passion and if you forget something never apologise the audience didn’t know what you were going to say anyway.
Final tip to remember is that the whole audience is willing you to do well and they want to hear you speak. Take comfort and strength in that. No-one ever went to see a speaker and thought ‘I hope the next speaker is rubbish’ See – they want you to do well.
If you really want to practice the art of Public speaking then why not join a Toastmasters meeting? Here you can learn in a fun, friendly, and safe environment to practice those skills.
Why not be the best speaker you can be and use your voice with the Power of Public Speaking.