Why do people feel nervous when they speak in public?

Before we dive into what is key to keep in mind when public speaking, we must first understand why we find it so difficult. The main reason is the feeling of being alone. You have no one to back you up or help you if something goes wrong. This dates to prehistoric times when we used to hunt in packs, hunting alone was extremely dangerous and it is this instinct that is kicking in. It’s your mind telling you that you shouldn’t be alone, however by following the following points, you will be able to overpower this instinct, and deliver a professional grade speech.

 

Barriers people have: How to engage the audience, clearly and confidently:

The main barriers that stop people from being able to go out a deliver an impactful speech is the lack of engaging the audience, the lack of clarity and the lack of confidence. You have to make sure that you audience are locked in at all times throughout your speech. People have low attention spans, so this is one of the more difficult tasks. You can achieve this through questions to interact with the audience. You should prepare at least four to six questions to ask your audience, depending on the length of your speech. This preparation will allow you to structure your questions and where you want them to take you clearly, and with practice before hand you can prepare how to ask them confidently.

 

Tell a Story:

Storytelling is a must for a speech. Brands are beginning to tell stories more and more every day, and not just in speeches but in advertisement too. Every speech you write and give should have a storytelling element broken down into three parts, a start, a middle and a finish. An example of this could be how something was in the beginning, then how something impacted this and caused a problem, and finally wrapping it up with the solution or fix to the issue. Stories captivate the audience and hold their interest far more than normal speeches.

 

Begin well, finish strongly:

The start to your speech is extremely important in setting the tone of your speech. Most people will make a quick judgement as to whether they find you interesting and whether they will take interest in your speech. Practice your introduction five times more than you practice your full speech. You will then be able to present yourself exactly how you wish on the day. Remember, perfect practice makes perfect. There is no set time as to how long you should practice for, so you must keep practicing until your speech is flawless.

 

Empathise and Sympathise with your audience:

Many public speakers and brands forget to bring themselves down to a human level. They deliver speeches about how they made million-dollar businesses and how you can follow their steps, but often they come across as in-human. They don’t relate to the audience, and a great way to breach this barrier is to open to the audience through your mistakes and imperfections. If you come across as someone who doesn’t make mistakes, the speech becomes unbelievable which in-course makes it uninteresting.

 

STIR: Statement, thinking it through, Illustration, Restate your statement:

This is a very powerful structure you can use when delivering a statement to the audience. Instead of just saying the statement, follow it up by making the audience think about it, then create a visualisation of it, then restate the statement. This really helps drive the point of the statement across and embeds the importance of the statement into the minds of the listeners.

 

Pausing is powerful:

It is absolutely vital to break up your speech with pauses, however pauses can serve to be more useful than just to break up a speech. A pause can help to emphasise a point or statement. It also shows the audience that you are calm and collected, and this confidence is picked up by the audience giving them confidence in what you are saying.

 

Body Language and your Tone:

Body language is a story in itself. Lose shoulders and slow, smooth movement shows confidence that once again resonates with the audience. Avoid being rigid and storming around the stage. You can use the tone of your voice to keep your speech interesting. Nothing is more stale and boring than a monotone speaker, so use a variety of pitches to deliver your speech.

 

PowerPoint:

Many speeches will require a power point, especially if it is business related. There are a few things to remember when using PowerPoint when giving a speech. Firstly, do not overuse animations. Too many animations look unprofessional and takes away the professionality of the presentation. Try to stick to one colour, preferably to the businesses branding, but if there is no business colour then choose one and stick with it. Too much colour creates the same issues as having too many animations. Another effective technique to make your presentation interesting is to use one image to explain the slide. Try to use as little words as possible, words are boring and can clutter a slide. An image provides a colourful break in the slideshow and is far more visually pleasing to look at than a slide of text. The final tip is one of the most important ones. When you are presenting your PowerPoint, speak about the next slide before you click over to it. It may seem like a small technique to focus on, but it is extremely impactful. It shows the audience that you are knowledgeable and that you know what you are talking about. Next time you are watching a presentation, remember this point and the effect will be very noticeable.

 

We hope these points are useful and that they will help you in your development in public speaking. We recently spoke to professional speaker Michael Virardi about how to improve your public speaking skills. It’s one of our most interesting and action-packed episodes yet, so be sure to listen to this unmissable episode for even more professional advice on public speaking.