We’ve all been there.
You’re about to give a speech.
Your heart is palpitating, your breathing is struggling to maintain under control, your palms are beginning to sweat, and you’re convinced you are about to bring up any remains of food in your system. You may even feel light headed.
And if you’re anything like me you’re chanting over and over in your head:
“Not me next. Not me next. Not me next.”
Even though you know the inevitable is going to happen. You have to give this speech. No matter what. There’s no way out.
So in order to make this process a bit less daunting, I thought I would share some tips for public speaking.
I used to be so terrified of public speaking, and while I still get nervous from time to time, I’m so much more confident and comfortable with public speaking, compared to a few years ago.
Whether you’re in school, uni, or you’re just in a situation where you are required to give a speech soon, here are some things that helped me when it comes to public speaking.
NO ONE REALLY CARES
This one may not be relevant depending on your circumstances, but if you’re in school, or even uni, just know that chances are, no one is really listening intently to you speak. Your audience is most likely daydreaming about what they want to eat for lunch, planning their weekend in their head or even stressing about their own speech.
The only people who are actually listening and caring about what you say are the marker/s in the room. So essentially, you’re only speaking to one or two people.
This is something I would always remind myself before giving a presentation and I’ve found it really helps calm the nerves.
SPEAK TO THE BACK WALL
This is a tip for projecting that nervous voice of yours. I always used to struggle with speaking loud enough in speeches, but what really helps me is directing your voice to the back wall.
Pretend the audience is at the very end of the room and use your diaphragm to project your voice to that point. This should ensure you speak in a clear, loud voice, without sounding like you’re shouting.
This trick can also work for eye contact. Make a conscious effort to look at the back wall. This ensures eye contact is taken care of and makes it seem like you are connecting with your audience.
If you’re using palm cards – use them to your advantage. I find that during public speaking, my mind tends to go blank and I forget when to pause, and put emphasis on certain words.
A way to combat this is to highlight particular sections of your speech to remind yourself to pause, or place emphasis. E.g. blue = pause now, pink = place emphasis on this word.
This helps to allow you to speak clearly and reduces the chance of you sounding like a robot, hence making you sound more natural when you speak.
PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE
You can have the best, most intelligent, eloquently written speech, but if you haven’t practised actually saying it out loud, you might as well be reading out the ABCs.
Even if your speech isn’t completely academically correct, if you present it well, and it is clear that you have prepared, you’d be surprised how well you can do.
Practice your speech in front of your family, friends or even your dog. If you can’t do that, practice in front of a mirror. This allows you to memorise slight sections of the speech and ensures you know how to present your speech with confidence.
Knowing your speech well also means you won’t be reading it out word for word from your palm cards and allows you to make more eye contact with the audience.
I hope these tips help someone next time they have to give a speech. Good luck!
How do you tackle public speaking?
– Karen xx