One of the biggest fears in today’s society is Public Speaking .  Over the years public speaking has become a bigger, and bigger part of my life.  As you grow older, your confidence increases, and you find yourself doing things, you never thought you would.  I’ve sought lots of help and advice along the way, to improve my own level of public speaking.  For this week’s blog, I’m going to share with you some helpful tips and advice, to help you improve your public speaking.  I believe that if you can conquer this fear in life, you can conquer absolutely anything.  If you speak regularly, you will get better, gain confidence, and enjoy something wonderful. 

No matter where you are or what you’re doing in life, at some point, public speaking is going to find you.  If you are in an interview, a business meeting, a sales pitch, a presentation at work, or even at a wedding, you’re going to have to do it.  So you may as well accept it, and be ready for when it happens.

For those of you who hate public speaking, believe me, it can be taught.  Just like learning sales, customer service, IT, or cooking.  You can learn how to be an effective public speaker.  So here a few starter points for you: Enjoy :o)

  1. Breathing – Move your focus to your chest area and breathe deeply.   Slow deep breaths, breathing out for a longer period of time.  Allow your mind to go blank for about 30 seconds. If thoughts jump in gently let them go.   As you continue breathing deeply relax your body, your face, neck, shoulders & legs. Do this for around 30 seconds before you have to speak.  This will relax you and regulate your heartbeat.   Breathing correctly will also regulate the tone, and pitch of your voice.  If you are breathing erratically, your voice could be up and down, therefore highlighting your nervousness to your audience.
  2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare – This is essential.  Whatever you do, don’t just stand up and hope for the best.  Don’t wing it! Only the most experienced speakers can pull this off, (sometimes).  It’s always better to have a plan, and stick to it.  Know your material, prepare what you are going to say, and know what order you are going to deliver it.  Make sure you know your subject, if you’re really passionate about a certain subject, then this will show, and you’re audience will see.  Always have a good opening line, memorise it over and over, so you know how your speech is going to start.  This will also give you confidence, and settle the pre-speech nerves.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice – Again, absolutely essential.  If it’s a speech, practice at home, in the car, before you go to sleep.  If it’s a presentation, set it up at the office, run through it.  Get used to the room, and the environment where you will be delivering it.  Go over it and over it again and again, so you know the material by heart.  Statistics tell us that 90% of any speech or presentation is preparation; only 10% is the actual delivery.  So if you are totally prepared, you’ve got a much better chance of nailing it on the day.
  4. Awareness – A very wise lady from America taught me a fantastic technique about how to empty your mind, before standing up and giving a speech.  If your mind is empty before you speak, then you are aware.  You are present to the situation in hand.  If your mind is filled with thoughts, and you are listening to the chatterbox inside your head, then you are not aware, nor present.  If you are listening to the chatterbox inside your head, the one that says “Oh no It’s me next, what if I mess it up?  What if I forget what I’m going to say?  Oh my god, all those eyes are going to be on me”, then you are heading for trouble.  It’s your job to silence the chatterbox. Let those thoughts slowly drift out of your mind.  In order to deliver a great speech, and settle your nerves, you must be able to empty mind of any thoughts, especially any negative thoughts.  If you can do this, then you will be completely focussed on the job in hand, (your speech), as you stand to deliver it.
  5. Butterflies – What are they?  Where do they come from?  Your heart is racing, your palms are sweaty, and your stomach is upside down with the nerves.  Guess what – This is totally normal! You’re not the only person in the world to experience this.  Yes, it happens to us all.  You wouldn’t be human if you did not get nervous before public speaking.  Honest!!  Nerves are part of public speaking, so accept them, and let them be your friend.  Use the nerves and turn them into excitement and adrenalin.  If you follow the breathing exercises in point 1, you will control the nerves. If you follow the awareness technique in point 4, this will reduce the butterflies.  I heard a very apt statement in relation to this point, which I think is fitting here “Teach the butterflies to fly in formation” Meaning follow the steps I have given you, and they will.
  6. It’s about them – Not you.  When you give a speech or presentation, remember, it’s about you conveying a message to your audience.  It’s not about you.  You need to take the focus off yourself, stop putting unnecessary pressure on yourself, and focus on the message you are trying to deliver.  Engage with them, make eye contact, smile.  Show your warmth.  Remember they want you to do well.  Some would say try and get a laugh early on to break the ice.  The important thing is that your audience understands what you are trying to say, and gets something out of the information you have given.
  7. Think Positive – I have mentioned this in all of my blogs.  You must prepare mentally for any public speaking event by planting positivity into your brain, and your neurology.  Say 5 positive things to yourself every night before bed, tell yourself positive things just before you speak.  Never allow yourself to think negative.   Think of the law of attraction, where like attracts like.  If you think negative thoughts, you immediately become a magnet for more negative thoughts.  If you think bad things, guess what come your way.  So choose to think positive and positive things will find their way to you.
  8. Speak often – Once you give your first speech, you will encounter a feeling that you’ve never experienced before.  A massive sense of achievement and positivity running through your body.  Elation, excitement & superior confidence.  It really is the start of something wonderful, so embrace it, and do it again!  The more you speak, the more confident you will become.  The nerves will always be there, but they will be less and less, each time you speak.  Public speaking is a bit like golf.  If you play every day, you achieve a certain level of competence. The more you play, the better you get.  Then if you have a year off, it takes a long time to get back to the standard which you once were.  Public speaking is the same, if you do it often enough, you just keep improving. The more you do it, the more you start to enjoy it.
  9. Other helpful techniques – I’ve done a lot of research on how to improve public speaking over the years.  Other techniques that I’ve come across are:  EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique, a form of meridian tapping created by a chap called Gary Craig.  If you google ‘EFT’ you will be able to find out more.  NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming.  Another way of planting positivity into your sub-concious and neurology.  This was originally discovered by 2 computer programmers in the 1970’s.  With NLP you can lift or remove barriers that you have created that tell you ‘You can’t’.  This helps you achieve the things that your sub-concious has always told you, you couldn’t.  PMA – Present moment awareness technique which I mentioned earlier.  You can find more information about this technique at http://selfdiscoverytechniques.com/
  10. Feel the fear – Do it anyway – In life you are constantly going to be faced with challenges.  Some you will be bold to take on, others you will be scared of.  Public speaking is one of those challenges that you will come across along your way.  If you face it, conquer it, and do it, you will be a much more confident person.  You will believe in yourself more and more each day.  You will apply for the job you never thought you could get, you’ll gain that promotion that you never thought you would.  Life is about choices and challenges.  Choose to do the things you hate, and everything else becomes easy.  Challenge yourself constantly and see what is achievable.  Public speaking is the number 1 fear in the world.  Think how you would feel if you conquered it.  Feel the fear & do it anyway.

3 Responses to “How to be an effective Public Speaker”

  1. Gavin February 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    What an excellent post Scott! So much vital info in there that everyone can use!

  2. Scott February 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

    Thank Gavin, really glad you enjoyed it :o)

  3. Richard Carter August 25, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    Great techniques – practice is definitely key (for me at least), as after a few ‘dry runs’ you begin to feel more confident about what you’re presenting!