The author of this highly rated article is Roger Knowles.
Roger is a practicing attorney and an experienced professional speaker.
If you want more valuable advice from this expert, click here.
Many people would like to acquire public speaking skills. Yet, the single greatest fear among people is the fear of speaking in public. If this is really the case, the good news is this – it is one of the easiest fears to conquer.
I attended a wedding recently, on the coast. The setting was amazing, with the ceremony itself right down at the beach. After the ceremony, we moved to the beautifully decorated clubhouse nearby for the reception and speeches. There were more speakers than usual, but we were never bored. Each of them seemed to be well within his abilities – all were nervous to start with and some (the more confident ones) spoke longer than others, but each was suitable, interesting and appropriate. Yet, not one of them was a professional speaker. So, how did they do it and how can others learn from the experience?
Here are some tips that relate directly to the experience of occasional speakers such as those I have mentioned above.
First, cast your mind back to the last time you were at a wedding. Did you sit there hoping like mad that the speakers would make mistakes? Or, did you sit there raging with impatience at having to listen to the speeches? Probably not, in each case. Why? We generally know the people who are to speak at weddings and we recognise that they are nervous. While we hope that they will not be too long-winded, we certainly do not wish them anything but success. In fact, we want them to succeeed for their own sakes, and for our own, because we want to enjoy the talks. This is the first thing to remember – your audience understands that you are nervous, and they want you to succeed.
It is a great benefit to remember that the audience is on your side – it reduces the pressure enormously.
Just about all the speakers, as I recall, started with notes in their hands – certainly, the two that spoke for the lonest periods, had notes. I noticed however, that they did not refer to these notes. As they got going, each warmed to his task – after all, they were wishing one of their friends well – and the very idea of notes fell away. I am willing to bet that the following circumstances prevailed –
- Each was speaking from the heart. They really meant what they had to say, so they were naturally able to speak with conviction.
- Each had in fact rehearsed the content of the speech many times before it was actually necessary to get up and speak, so they were really familiar with the ocntent.
These are two very important tips –
- Do not speak unless you really believe what you are going to say. If your heart is in what you are saying, you are halfway there. If you do not believe what you are about to say however, you will be crippling yourself
- Know your content. Plan it with an introduction, middle and end. Write it out, read it through, learn it. Do not worry to try to remember it word by word, or it will sound stiff and rehearsed. Even very skilled and experienced performers get really nervous just before performing. This is both normal and necessary – it makes us super- attentive. I often find, with one-off talks, that shortly before I begin, I cannot remember the content of my talk at all, but once I begin, I get into the condition known as ; ‘flow’ and it all comes really easily to me. Other speakers and performers report similar experiences.
Many speakers have had the wonderful experience of realising that their audiences are on their side. You can, too. First, prepare, prepare, prepare – then remind yourself that everybody wants you to succeed. Remember that what you are about to say is for them, it is not about you. Then go out and ‘wow’ them, because you can!