Tips for confident public speaking

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Tips for confident public speaking

Anupama Nair

What is communication? Communication is the backbone of our life. It allows you to form “connections, influence decisions, and motivate change”. It is true that without excellent communication skills, it is difficult to advance in your career or life itself. Public speaking is a good way of building or developing your personality on many levels, since improving communication skills is helpful in almost every walk of life. Skill in public speaking can help you meet your goal whether your goal is to engage in political debate, or make a career as a motivational speaker or gain confidence in front of an audience.

Public speaking is one of the most important and most dreaded forms of communication. Have you heard the term glossophobia? Glossophobia or speech anxiety, is the most common phobia, people have across the world. It is alright if you do not have much skills in effective communication till high school, but when you are starting or already have a career in your life, public speaking is a vital skill to have and to improve. “It effects simple, everyday interactions between co-workers, bosses and employees, marketing professionals and clients, etc., and it can have an enormous impact on your career path and your level of success in your industry”.

There are many reasons why public speaking is important. They are:

To win over the crowd:

The ability to win over the crowd is an important skill to have in business — especially in the public relations arena. To win over the crowd you need the skill of persuasion, and it can carry you far and it all starts by refining the public speaking skills. If you master the art of public speaking the result is an increase in confidence and with that, a cool and collected presence in front of an audience. Of course, it is necessary to be well-informed about the subject you are presenting, but beyond that,” while making a persuasive speech of any kind, including a sales pitch to a client, you need to be prepared to answer the opposition, and to speak with poise”.

To make a strong case, the ability to speak publicly is not only important, but also essential to make strides forward. “For example, in order to express why a certain product or idea would be an interesting topic to an editor of a publication, one must use strong enough, convincing language to elicit intrigue and curiosity. A great pitch will persuade the consumer or editor to want to know more. While addressing any audience with an idea or argument for or against something, public speaking allows you to make your case compellingly and convincingly”.

To motivate people:

A great public speaker achieves the power to motivate his or her audience to do something, not do something, change a behavior, or work towards your goal. However, to put an idea forward, you should be able to excite and cheer your audience. Who are public speakers? “Public speakers are leaders who are able to inspire their audience to work harder to achieve their goals”. As a public speaker, your role is to influence your audience and create an environment where everyone walks out ready to roll. You are not merely giving a speech in the attempt to get your audience to take a certain action; speakers are part of the action and can convey their passion and drive. It is not enough to simply know about the issues at hand but to make your audience share your passion. Elections have been won simply because one candidate was a better public speaker than the other like Modi ji and Kennedy for example. Though, knowledge about the topic is necessary, but more important point, being able to arouse passion in people through skilled public speaking will motivate your audience to make a move.  “When people talk about having a voice in the world, they mean having an impact on the world by voicing your thoughts and your knowledge in an exciting way”. A mastery of public speaking allows you to relate to the audience and gain their trust. As a skilled public speaker, you become likable and believable, and you will be able to inspire and even entertain the crowd.

To inform people:

‘The ability to inform’ is one of the most important aspects of public speaking. “From presenting research papers and PowerPoint presentations in school to presenting ideas to your superiors or client, informative public speaking is a vital component of a successful career across all work fields”. Once you have their attention, a good informative speech, sharing your knowledge of a subject with an audience, enhances their understanding and makes them remember your words long after you’ve finished.

For example, you might be asked to instruct a group of coworkers on how to use new computer software or to address your employees on company events. Whether it is giving demonstrations or sharing an area of expertise, this form of public speaking is an essential skill in today’s world.

According to a study conducted by sociologist, Andrew Zekeri, “oral communication skills were the number one skill that college graduates found useful in the business world”. Communication skills enhances a person’s ability to interact with professionals and fellow colleagues in a qualified and composed manner.

Career advancement:

Effective public speaking skills can help you with career advancement, “as they indicate creativity, critical thinking skills, leadership abilities, poise, and professionalism, qualities which are very valuable for the job market.

Speaking at events and conferences is a good way of building credibility. The more well known the event the better, as you can add these speaking achievements to your resume.

Public speaking can also help you stand out at work. You'll learn to speak up in meetings, to promote your ideas, and to present yourself as a professional. Speaking skills can also help you excel in job interviews.

After speaking at a few events, people will remember you and begin to see you as an authoritative figure in the area of your expertise. Soon you’ll find getting new clients and business from people who were your audience.

Boost confidence:

Public speaking helps in boosting your confidence, overcoming the fears and insecurities that is part and parcel of public speaking. Additionally, connecting with audiences can be a strong reminder that you have valuable insights and opinions to share with the rest of the world. The confidence levels will grow once you start speaking — starting from speaking to small groups of people and then to large audiences. This will benefit you not just on stage, but in everyday life as well, whether it be in a meeting or on a date.

A research conducted by North Carolina Cooperative Extension from age group 9 to 18, who participated in a public speaking program found that public speaking increased confidence of a person. The study revealed that achieving a goal was an important factor when it came to increasing the confidence of an audience. It is inevitable that nervousness that comes with speaking in front of an audience won’t entirely disappear, however it will teach you how to deal with your fears and turn your weakness into strength.

Critical thinking:

Public speaking is an excellent way to build the critical thinking skills. Writing a speech requires a great deal of careful thinking, i.e., from the audience analysis to the final closing sentence. It's just not enough to have a message for the audience, you also need to figure out how to adapt the message to fit the needs of the audience.

“How can you make your points relevant to your listeners? How can you help the audience understand your views? If you start thinking critically about your speaking style, you may find ways to improve your general communication style at home and at work”.

Personality Development:

Communication skills are very important for your personal and professional success and improving this area is one of the greatest benefits of public speaking. Preparing a speech makes it mandatory for speakers to take a step back and think critically about effective ways of communication. In fact, it’s easy to fall back on your communication skills we formed many years ago.

Improve communication skills

Always remember when you write a speech, you have to think carefully about the best framework, persuasive strategy, and diction to communicate your message to the audience. This helps in you improving your communication skills in other areas of your life.

Personal relationships, social interactions and work situations require you to communicate ideas to other people. Public speaking stresses on communicating ideas. You can learn to calmly take up an opposing view, to present your ideas in an organized and coherent manner, and to defend your views to others.

Make new social connections:

Public speaking engagements are good places to meet other people with whom you have common interests. You’ll find that people approach you after  a presentation to engage in conversation and this helps to make new social connections. Try to mingle with the audience for as long as you can after your speech, answering questions and seeking fresh perspectives on your topic.

You need to give audience the option of getting in touch with you at a later date by listing contact information on handouts or slides. If you have a website, request audience to find more information there.

If there are many speakers in a single event, reach out to your fellow presenters. Congratulate them or, if you miss a talk, ask how it went. There are lots of opportunities for networking in the realm of public speaking, so plan ahead and make use of them.

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