So You Want To Be A Public Speaker

Public SpeakingThe record fear among most people is the horror of communal speaking. So how do you go about becoming a good presenter if you’ve never tried it before?


First, you’re going to have to live it out.

You want to come across a venue somewhere that you can give relaxed generous speeches. Start out by speaking in front of a copy–act as if you’re happy to give a speech.

You can talk in front of a mirror, smooth practiced speakers use this as a practice to understand the magic of facial expression.

You may be alarmed to know I was one of the youngest public speakers on the planet at one time. I stood up in front of 83,000 people at the old Twickenham Rugby Stadium during a Christian convention in 1963 at the age of 9 years old.

I looked out on this jam-packed audience and froze like a rabbit in the headlights. I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me up. The throat dried. I felt sick. My stomach was doing somersaults. Then after just a minute that seemed like an eternity all I can remember was a tremendous ovation. 83,000 people clapping and deafening cheers! Wonderful, I can say.

Since that momentous occasion I have never feared crowds to speak to. In fact I am more comfortable talking to a crowd person to person.

The record fear among most people is the horror of communal speaking. So how do you go about becoming a good presenter if you’ve never tried it before?

First, you’re going to have to live it out. You want to come across a venue somewhere that you can give relaxed generous speeches. Start out by speaking in front of a copy – act as if you’re happy to give a speech.

You can talk in front of a mirror, smooth practiced speakers use this as a practice to understand their facial expressions and how to vary them. This will present you the reassurance level you want to begin speeches or presentations in front of a group or audience. Connect a local speaking set. The Toastmasters are a good one – it’s a club for people who fancy to pick up their speaking skills, and they have people of all experience levels.

Look for the 3 ‘P’s. Pitch, Pace and Power.

Pitch:  Find a ‘range’ in your voice which best projects your voice. A bit like a vocalist finding the right key to sing in.  You have to ‘throw’ your voice into the audience without grating their nerves. Conversational, and warm as opposed to a monotone drone, or squeaky rasp.

Pace:  Nerves can rush you and the audience through the material. Get a tempo beat like that vocalist. You body metronome, and get that pace right. If you are too fast you would have lost the audience, if your speech is too slow they will fall asleep. Slow the pace for emphasis and quicken it to create climax.

Power: Don’t be afraid to notch up the volume. Listeners hate to strain to hear. A booming voice might embarrass all concerned, so if you reach a part of your script that needs passion raise your game volume-wise. If the plot is sombre soften the voice but be clear and concise.

Another tip: Avoid ‘word whiskers’ i.e. ‘Ummm’  ‘Arrr..’ should be avoided they make the audience think you are not convinced about your script and too hesitant.
Small audiences are good to start with. It’s a good deal easier to talk with a tiny group as a trainee than a multitude – you just act as if you’re conversation with friends, and regularly the pressure and jumpiness will go away. If you don’t have one in your neighborhood, you could try hosting pub quizzes looking in your region for contests sponsored by the local Rotary club or other organizations.

Alternatively, you could just get people to eavesdrop on you. If you’ve got a life-size presentation at job that you’re apprehensive about, do it quite a lot of times in front of people that you know and are relaxed with. You’ll have to live out the authentic thing. Always remember public speaking is fun, focus positive thoughts not negative when you are speaking. And these kinds of things always help – You’ll be GREAT!

Probably the best tools to use for your rehearsals are a Dictaphone or webcam. A video recorder to practice with is good. Place it at different angles to see how that body language looks.

Highlight your script with a marker for your key pauses, some greater  ‘emphasis’ or a need for gesture.

Eye Contact: Your can’t maintain eye contact with all your audience, so pick out some ‘smiley faces West and East in your audience that you can look up from your notes and acknowledge fromtime to time. Don’t make them too much of a point of reference by staring at them. They do not want to feel awkward when they think the speaker is looking too longingly as if for some more inspiration!

Most people have a fear of speaking to a large group. This is a totally normal apprehension. People may visualise the audience laughing at them, or shouting out. This is an extremely rare occurrence, unless you are a politician.

Most people listening to you are aware of the pressures you are under and would never change places with you.

These guidelines will help you to overcome your fears.

1. Know your subject. Read through your presentation beforehand. Read around the subject, so that you are confident that you know more than your audience, even after you have spoken. If you know your subject then you will come across in an interesting way and keep the attention of your audience.

2. Expect to do well. Your expectations are obvious in your body language. If your audience sees that you expect to do badly, you will do badly. Expectation is vital.

3. Look at your audience. Eye contact is vital if you are to judge their understanding so that you can change the pace of your delivery if necessary.

4. Use notes. Or bullet points.  You should never, ever read your speech from a sheet.
No more than one point per minute. So edit and ‘keep the gold’ for you to elaborate

5. Remember the 3 ‘P’s ? Slow your speech down. This makes you appear more confident and enables your audience to take it in more easily. If you are talking slower, it is easier for your audience to maintain their attention, and momentary lapses in their concentration mean that they miss less.

6. Vary the tone and level of your voice. This maintains interest. You should speak clearly and project your voice, rather than shouting. Talking quietly in key segments means that your listeners will need to actively listen to those parts of your presentation.

7. Avoid excessive body movements and gestures. Hand gestures can be used for emphasis only.

8. Keep your hands and thumbs visible. Holding your hands out, with the thumbs uppermost is a very powerful dominance gesture. Watch politicians speaking, they all use this gesture.

9. Rejoice in the endorphin high that you will feel when it goes well.

Words hurt, heal, motivate, and aggravate. They are powerful. They control emotions and can even control a person physically.

A word is worth a thousand pictures.

“Come here.” Two words that move a person from there to here.

“Write this down.” Three words that cause people to put words on a page.

“Remember a time when you felt angry.” Seven words that can create an overload of emotions.

Your words are power. Think of the number of people you have made smile by saying, “I really appreciate you.” Or the number of people you have hurt by saying, “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you do anything right?”

Words possess just as much power when spoken to a crowd of a thousand as in a one on one conversation. It’s one thing to get one person excited, but impassion an entire group, and you have irresistible intensity on your side.

Use your words more effectively…

1. Understand their influence. Do not use or choose your terms lightly. A wrong word can turn an audience from friends to fiends. The better you know your group the better you can tailor your terms for their benefit.

You get to choose the outcome. Want the group to be charged, mad, excited, encouraged, content, or happy? You can produce any of those by using the right words in the right way.

2. Don’t be afraid to be edgy. Too many speakers are soft. You can be tough without being obnoxious, or insulting a group’s intelligence. You can humorous and still make a hard-hitting point.

I got in at 1 a.m. last night after spending two days speaking to 1,500 people. Get this – all the reviews came back at the top level, and I was tough on the folks. Several came up and said, “You’re not afraid to tell it like it is!” The words I chose challenged the group without breaking them.

What about your words? Do you toss them out lightly, or with precision power? Your words can change lives and influence millions. Choose and use them well.
These are only people you are speaking to. Unless you are going to say something wildly unpopular they will not throw anything at you.

Imagine they are just cardboard cutouts and standing naked in front of you.

That always works for me!


One Comment:

  1. recommended this articles to my friend, thanks for sharing for this useful information, Good Job

Comments are closed