Many people do not like public speaking despite the fact that it is an essential part of both business and personal life. Many people are actually afraid to speak in public although, like so many other things, it is a skill which can be learned and improved. This is not something that many people are taught to do and it is certainly a challenge to the recent grad who has limited or no experience. Many speakers make the following mistakes, which can be easily rectified:
One of the worst things you can do is to put off preparing for your speech, the sooner you work out an outline and practice the better you will know you material and the more confident you will be. Planning and practice will enable you to control your nerves, firstly accept the opportunity to share your knowledge and then create a plan for your speech.
To plan properly you should create time in your schedule specifically for this; you will also need to carry a notebook with you at all times to ensure you can note any ideas as they occur. You should also evaluate the following:
- Your audience and their backgrounds – to ensure you offer the right amount of background to your subject.
- Watch other speakers and learn from their mistakes or imitate their good techniques.
- Will you need visual aids and if so how can you keep these to a minimum. It is often better to create your slides in reverse; the last slide will emphasize the points you have been making.
Arriving At The Last Minute For Your Speech
This is simply bad protocol and will make you stressed and nervous as you will not have time to collect your thoughts. You should always arrive early and speak to the person organizing the event. This will provide you with the opportunity to introduce yourself and confirm if they have any particular issues which need addressing. You will also have enough time to check the equipment works, such as a projector for your slides. Finally it is worth taking the stage with an empty room to ensure you are familiar with everything.
It is important to be aware of the following when giving any speech:
- You only need your slides, a water bottle and yourself! It is always a good idea to go over your speech prior to starting but never take this on the stage with you. This is likely to ensure you read your notes rather than talking to your audience. The most you should take with you is a note of the key points you wish to get across.
- Body language can tell the audience a lot. Do not cross your arms or make yourself look small. You need to own the space you are in and people will see a confident speaker and be inspired. It can be easier to achieve this look if you visualize one of your biggest achievements prior to taking the stage.
- Perfection is almost impossible. Every speaker makes mistakes, simply take a deep breath and either incorporate the mistake into your speech or move on. Only you know you have made a mistake. Even if the audience realize it will simply make you look more human. Keep general eye contact with the audience to build on this rapport.
Panicking When Asking If Anyone Has A Question
You have finished your speech but need to see if anyone has a question that needs addressing. This can be the scariest part simply because you feel you will be caught out.
This does not have to be the case, believe in yourself, you have practiced and are giving the speech because you know your subject. In a question time scenario you should bear the following points in mind:
- If unsure, clarify the question – there is nothing worse than answering the wrong question. This clarification also gives you a little more time to think.
- Be prepared for a question that you don’t know the answer to. Either confirm this is an interesting point and one that you have not yet had time to consider or invite the person to discuss it further after the presentation.
- No matter what the audience may say, remain calm and polite. You can always say that you will have to agree to disagree until you have had the opportunity to do further research.
After a speech it is important to congratulate yourself and to analyse what, if anything, did not go to plan. You will then know how to do it better the next time!
William Taylor is the writer to this article. He is a regular contributor at many sites and mainly focuses on business related topics. Also he works for http://www.londonspeakerbureau.com/ which is world’s leading speaker and advisory network. You can also find him at Google+, Twitter and Facebook.