A to Z of public speaking
A is for Audience
Your audience will determine the kind of address you make. The more you know about them, the more effective your speaking will be. Be sensitive to your audience and your public speaking will improve dramatically.
B is for Begin
To become a better speaker, you have to begin to speak as often as you can. Read all the tips you can about communication but in the end you have to start speaking. Just do it.
C is for Confidence
Confidence or belief in your abilities is probably your biggest weapon as a public speaker. As Marcus Garvey said, with confidence you have won the race even before you have started. So believe in yourself – you can do it!
D is for Desire
You have to earnestly want to be an effective speaker to be able to become one. It is not a question about mere wishes. Your desire will give provide you with the fuel to fire your efforts in spite of your fears of failure.
E is for Engage
Have you noticed how great speakers ask their audiences to respond to questions or even repeat key phrases after them? These are effective ways of connecting with people who are listening to your address. Keep your audience on your side by engaging them.
F is for Fear
Your palms are sweaty, your tongue feels like sandpaper and your heart is pounding – signs of fear of speaking in public. How do you get rid of fear? Speak only about what you know and speak often – as you gain confidence, your fear will lessen (see C above).
G is for Gratitude
Be thankful for the opportunity to speak, whether to twenty or two hundred people. To be invited to stand before a group of people and deliver an address means someone thought you had something worth listening to. Show your gratitude by deciding to give your best.
H is for Hitches
Faulty microphones, power failures, and hecklers – these are just some of the occupational hazards you face as a public speaker. How you respond to temporary setbacks will define your success. Be calm and see the funny side of things and with time you will be able to ride over speaking hitches and get to your destination – the warm applause of an appreciative audience.
I is for Interact
Arrive at the venue early and chat with your audience members. This will make you less of a stranger to them. While speaking, look at as many of them as you can – this will deepen your engagement with the audience (see E above).
J is for Jokes
Be careful about jokes – they can turn an audience against you if your listeners do not appreciate what you thought was humour. A joke works only when everyone finds it funny. If in doubt, leave it out.
K is for Kindness
You return to your seat after giving a speech and begin picking big holes out your performance. It is natural to be your own worst critic but don’t overdo it. You probably perform better than you think so be kind to yourself.
L is for Learn
The best leaders in politics, business, religion and almost every field often have excellent communication skills. They are your teachers. Grab the opportunity to watch them speak – you will be amazed at what you can learn from them.
M is for Mistakes
You may mispronounce a word but the audience only becomes aware of it when you apologize and then attempt to correct it. Why draw attention to your faults? Recognize the error but move on smoothly and quickly create an opportunity to pronounce the word well.
Watch out for the conclusion of ‘The A to Z of Public Speaking’. Happy speaking!