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Practical Ways To Develop Your Public Speaking Skills

Ways To Develop Your Public Speaking Skills
Just imagine for a second, you are faced with a crowd and what you are expected to do is educate them on a topic, or motivate them with your speech, or just entertain them somehow. But what happened? You ended up quivering, all your ideas and lines disappeared into thin air. The eyes of everyone seem to peer through to your soul, and you realize that everyone in the hall knows how afraid and terrified you are at the moment.

But you don't have to give up so quickly. You fire on with your weak, fear-filled lines only to realize a few moments later that some of your confidence is gradually returning. Now that you are out of stage once more, you still keep imagining, what is this art of public speaking and how do I master it?

You may have seen people speaking to a crowd and they seem so fearless and composed. Are you probably thinking there is a secret to public speaking you've not yet grasped? Well, actually there is. Sometimes, you ask yourself? I am so fluent talking off-stage, why do I get off-balance on stage?

Public speaking is an art and to master this art of public speaking, there are quite a few things you'd have to put into it. Statistically, almost everyone in the world has at one time experienced stage freight. And for me, I have experienced it countless times and the truth is, the larger your audience becomes, the more you need to find ways to overcome the fear of public speaking.

You are called up know stage to say the very same things you may have said to someone before and suddenly, cold runs through your spine into your hands and everything changes. What we don't fully understand is why people experience the fear of public speaking. We will talk about this later but now, lets what public speaking is.

What Is Public Speaking?

Wikipedia defines public speaking as "the act of performing a speech to a live audience". This kind of speech differs so much from normal casual speech off-stage in the nature of the audience, the technicalities involves and the emotional reactions you may experience. 
Whereas in public speaking, your audience is usually a live stage comprising of a large number of people, it could at other times be a small audience. And on the other hand, an address to a large crowd of people up to 50 could still not be considered a public speech if there is no formal arrangement for who speaks first or who speaks last.
If we use numbers only, a crowd is made up of ten(10) or more people. In public speaking, however, there is a great demand for just one person at a time to carry most of the audience along. This demand, as opposed to a quite barbaric, informal and/or uncontrolled speech, makes public speaking especially challenging for beginners or those who have not had enough experience.

If you have ever felt nervous or anxious while addressing a crowd, you are not alone. Almost everyone has experienced speech anxiety on stage at least once in their lives. To some, they quickly get themselves back after a few minutes of speaking. While for some others, the nervousness persists through the entire speech and even into moments after the speech has been delivered.

Another terminology for speech anxiety or the fear of public speaking is glossophobia. It is quite a common phobia with about 75% of the world's population affected by it. This statistics does not reflect the true values of people who experience fear of public speaking because everyone experiences it. However, the statistics include those whose major duty or job depends on public speaking or formal speeches.

While it may not be the top phobia, it’s considered to be quite common, with around 75% of the general population admitting that they’ve experienced it.

The physical symptoms of glossophobia vary in different people, but the most common are: increased sweating, stiffening and/or uncontrollable shaking of muscles, and increased blood pressure and heart rate. It elicits a fight or flight response, which makes you have tensed or quivering speech and making awkward pauses. But is there a way to manage glossophobia and in turn, stage freight? We will see this in full soon enough.

Why Is Public Speaking Important

Nothing kills you when you don't develop your public speaking skills, but you actually lose out from a lot because public speaking is a skill that finds application in any place where more than one person is, and in activities where people are to be influenced to do one or two things, say in an organization. 

Public speaking skill is also required to convince people about your idea, sell your brand, and to push people to act in a given direction. Like I mentioned earlier, the art of public speaking doesn't always have to involve large crowds and audiences. The skill itself can find application in any group involving at least 3 other people.

Public speaking is a skill that enables you to create connection through effective communication, with people who matter to you, thus, expanding your network of people you truly need.

If you wish to share your ideas, innovations, inventions in the most captivating way ever, no one will explain further how much you need public speaking. 

Just take a look at these above, who doesn't need those at some point? Everyone, therefore, needs public speaking because it is that important.

Why Do You Experience Fear of Public Speaking?

In order to find a solution to this common problem, we first need to understand why people fear public speaking, why those hormones of flight and freight are released in the first place. Sometimes, it becomes so unclear to you why you are afraid, it looks to you as though the feeling were subconscious and uncontrollable. And more so, they actually are uncontrollable and reflexive because your brain actually fears the scene. In other words, both you and your brain are afraid. But what are some factors that may result in this feeling of unwarranted fear?

Here are some factors that may cause that;

  • Self-perception about your abilities.
  • Lack of public speaking skills.
  • Lack of preparation.
  • New and specific situations.

Self-perception About Your Abilities

The first step in being able to present your speech in the public is being able to accept that you have what it takes to communicate your ideas in the public. Mastering the art of public speaking involves getting confident in yourself, and your content. 

Most people easily give up on public speaking when they failed on the first try. I can recall how much people I have encountered, who once told me they are not so much into public speaking and stage stuff all because they have since been embarrassed. No one who has mastered the art of public speaking rose up to the ranks because they never faltered at some points, but they believed in themselves that they can do it no matter what it takes.

By the time you start thinking about why you can't do the public speaking, remember the looks of members of your audience, how they believe that you can really address them the best way ever. That's the truth, your audience believes in you.
Why are all these motivations important? Public speaking is a skill you just can't do without, the stage may differ but the art of public speaking is essentially the same.
When it comes to content, another thing can stand in the way and that is what we are going to explore in the sub-topic below - lack of preparation.

Lack of Public Speaking Skills

I have often heard people say "look to the ceiling when you are feeling intimidated by your audience", but that alone is a clear sign that you are immature in the art of public speaking. It demonstrates a lack of public speaking skills because mastering the art of public speaking entails that you connect with your audience and understand that at that point, they truly want to gain something from you.

Lack of public speaking skills is not only about stage freight and fear of speaking in public, but it is also about effectively passing the information across. That is to say that, you can exhibit 100% confidence and still do poorly as far as public speaking is concerned.
The important thing about the fear of public speaking, however, is that it ruins everything you know or prepare for even from the very start. Thus, the fear of public speaking is the first thing to target for elimination or improving on.

Lack of Preparation

Confidence comes naturally when you are thoroughly prepared for any task. Even when you know the facts right, but you are unsure about them, you would still go about stuttering. 
Achieving success is based on adequate preparations, and even more so, public speaking is an art that relies so much on preparation. 

I once prepared for a speech I delivered some time ago memorizing the stuff I had penned down. It was an interesting experience because the feeling that I was fully prepared gave me so much confidence that even when I missed some lines from what I originally wrote, I easily found a way to make it flow on seamlessly.
Preparation is key to mastering the art of public speaking. Different levels warrant different intensity of preparation but at the later phases, very minimal memorizing and cramming or pre-documented scripts would be required, such that you are comfortable enough to express yourself on the go, just the way you want it and based on what you perceived your audience would be interested in hearing.

New and specific situations

Addressing an audience of 10 is never the same as addressing a bigger one of say, a thousand people. Even if you were to say the same exact thing, use the same exact words, the crowd of 1000 would still be scarier, won't it?
Until you have achieved freedom and independence in public speaking, the size of the audience, the calibre of the individuals, and the purpose/scenario (maybe like a contest or an audition) will always determine how your performance goes. In other words, these new and specific situations van put you off so much that you actually get terrified and perform less than expected. 
What are some of these situations?
  1. First time addressing a large audience.
  2. Standing in front of examiners or judges.
  3. Trying to express an idea that is new to everyone else.
  4. Addressing an audience with very great personalities and personality figures.
  5. Engaging with a new audience you are not so familiar with.

How To Develop Your Public Speaking Skills

To master the art of public speaking, there are four things you need to first strike out on your wishlist. You need to know these things well enough because this will help you perform better, remember better, regain composure, drive out fear and help you to articulate your ideas freely.
  1. Know your objective.
  2. Know your audience.
  3. Know your speech/idea.
  4. Know yourself.

Knowing Your Objective

Ask yourself this question, why are you having the speech in the first place? 
Many times, public speakers realize they don't even know their objective in the speech. They forget that the speech is more about the audience than it is about themselves, such that even during your preparations, you are already factoring your audience into the overall picture of your speech. 
In this regards, there are four major objectives you must know and they include the following;
  • Capture people's attention: This involves a combination of appearance (look presentable and interesting), great introductory statements and stories that capture their attention, and cite interesting examples or case scenarios.
  • Keep them in the flow: You achieve this by making sure that the body of your speech builds up on your introductions, use suspense to spark their desire to listen more, carry them along by thinking out possible questions they could ask and provide an answer to them immediately.
  • Make them excited or feel good: They could bet tired, no matter how resourceful you have become. This is where making them excited and happy comes in. As the excitements begin to dwindle, make sure to awaken them by means of story, jokes, music or any I retesting outside your major topic.
  • Then end well: Great endings are as important as great beginnings. When you beginning is great, you are able to carry your audience through the entire speech, but a great ending gives you the applause you deserve. It leaves them with no choice than to put their hands together for you. This may not be so much reward but it can further give you the reassurance that you are already mastering the art of public speaking,

Knowing Your Audience

When it comes to knowing your audience, everyone things it's just about knowing their names, social status and educational backgrounds only. But the truth is, knowing your audience entails predicting their feeling and reactions and knowing their expectations. Some interesting facts you will get to know about your audience are as follows:
  • Your audience believe in you.
  • Your audience wants to be entertained or educated by you.
  • They want you to succeed.
  • They will do everything they can to cheer you up when you find it hard.
  • Even when they laugh you to scorn, it is because they find it uncontrollably amusing.

Knowing Your Speech/Idea

When you are fully prepared for the speech, your audience has ways to know. Knowing your speech entails a lot of different things. In mastering the art of public speaking, you need to get prepared to entertain or educate your listening audience. 
Gestures, mannerisms and tone are important in conveying your message and in inciting the interests of your listeners.
The key element here is practice and preparation. That's what makes you know what you need to know about your topic or idea. If you show to your audience that you know what you are saying, they become better inclined to listen to you. On the other hand, they easily turn away when you display a lack of information, or when you fail to articulate your idea in an interesting way.

Knowing Yourself

In this sub-category, I will talk about three things that you need to work on about yourself for you to be able to perform well in public speaking. Knowing yourself means knowing your weaknesses, your strengths and modifying these to enhance your performance. You must need to know these before you begin the actual speech presentation and prepare against them. Some areas about yourself you need to develop include;
  • Find ways to boost your confidence.
  • Practice to strengthen memory.
  • Practice meditation to enhance focus and calm your nerves.
  • Focus on the goal and not on failure.
  • Rest well to prevent anxiety.
  • Assure yourself you have what it takes.
  • Be yourself as much as possible, be original even when copying someone else.
  • Work on breathing, learn the square breathing technique.
  • Start practising early enough.
  • Do your best to express yourself but learn to not make your audience notice any struggle in you.

Finally, it is important to conclude by adding that you do not master the art of public speaking overnight. It may take a while, may require rigorous practice and you are not going to be all that fantastic. There are always the beginnings of anything, but no matter how public speaking may have embarrassed you, don't give up still.

While you work your way to mastery of the art of public speaking, here are some things you should do to get faster in developing the skill;
  • Find and create more opportunities to speak
  • Attend a public speaking class, if necessary
  • Find a partner who is also interested in developing their public speaking skills
  • Maximize every opportunity to speak in public
  • Seek the help of a therapist or doctor if you always become morbidly anxious
I hope this helps you get better, that's the aim and don't forget to leave a reply if that aim was achieved for you, or you still have more concerns.

Prosper Yole

I am a lifestyle blogger, I write useful articles on successful life tips and hacks. Posts bearing Prosper Yole as author are either written by the blog author himself or by our various other contributors. Thank you for reading through. I look forward to having you more often. Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Twitter @ProsperYoleOfficial

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