It is an urban myth that people in general fear public speaking more than they fear death.
This effectively means they would rather be the one lying in the coffin than the one delivering the eulogy.
I find that hard to believe as I personally love public speaking. But then I almost always see jaws drop once I proclaim my adoration, followed by a barely audible “Whattt???”
This article therefore aims to get you on the road to becoming a successful public speaker, which will prove useful in presentations and interviews that you cannot avoid throughout your entire working life.
If you are expecting to read through a what-seems-to-have-become-standard list of the “do’s” and “don’ts” of public speaking, you will be sorely disappointed.
I will not be telling you how to stand, what to say or where to put your hands (you can get that from many other articles out there if you wish) because chances are, you will forget about them in your actual speech anyway.
Even if you don’t, you will most likely come off as pretty mechanical as you attempt to fit a series of complex instructions into your speech.
I have been guilty of learning and incorporating a standard list into my previous speeches, until I realized that doing so was turning me into a “standard” speaker – a speaker of decent quality without major gaffes.
That sounds like a great accomplishment from a beginner perspective, but it definitely isn’t enough to turn me into a “successful” speaker.
After spending some time practicing and observing other speakers, it dawned on me that the key to public speaking success lies in the following principle:
Simplicity is beauty.
More often than not, speakers transform their speeches into elaborate performances, thinking that putting up a good show is crucial in “wowing” their audience. They do not realize that because the audience was kept busily overwhelmed by the theatrics of the speech, they rarely leave with a deep impression of the speech itself!
In order to play the “simplicity” card right as a successful public speaker, you may wish to take note of the following:
1. Write Your Own Speech
Speaking and writing always go hand-in-hand; how can the actual speech be great if the content isn’t built for it to be delivered excellently?
However, this isn’t the only reason to write your own speech, so for those who can’t write well, fret not!
Writing your own speech benefits you when delivering the actual speech; it makes it easier for you to remember the flow and gist of the speech so that you can improvise in case you forget your lines, run out of time or end too early – being able to master your content is more important than writing a speech with perfect grammar!
2. Tell Interesting Stories
Be a storyteller, not a preacher.
The audience wants to hear interesting stories because they are original and relatable, hence always inject stories from your own experiences or interesting facts you have read about.
Even if you are an established figure in the field of your speech, be aware of your audience and do not use unnecessary jargon or talk down to them as this turns people off quickly.
Telling interesting stories also portrays your sincerity in wanting to have a conversation with the audience that brings you to their level for greater emotional connection and engagement.
The best part – this is simple to deliver as everyone has his or her own stories to tell!
3. Do Away With Presentation Tools
By removing presentation tools, you remove the urge to rely on them as your teleprompter, thus allowing you more spontaneity and less stress to deliver your speech.
If you really need them, keep them simple and to the point; images are powerful and words on each slide should be kept to no more than six – most importantly, the presentation tools must aid your speech positively; otherwise, you yourself are your best presentation tool.
4. Keep Yourself Comfortable
You can deliver the best version of your speech only when you are comfortable, right?
Most speakers overlook their own comfort as an essential part of public speaking – do you have some water nearby in case you get thirsty; do you have your notes ready in case your mind suddenly goes blank; will you feel too self-conscious in this tight-fitting outfit that it discourages you from gesturing excitedly in your speech?
Take care of your own needs and don’t just aim to impress the audience with your get-up especially if it is making you less than comfortable.
5. End Off With A Bang
The bang you end your speech with doesn’t have to be literal; it simply means one strong message of significance that will get the audience thinking or inspired to take action or find out more about something.
Just revolve your speech around this message and make it explicit at the end of your speech for them to take home.
While the above principle seems simple enough to comprehend, actually getting there is a complex process. The art of public speaking cannot be mastered through a short-term course or by reading tips; it requires continuous study and practice to deliver simplicity in your speech as second nature.
Nevertheless, I hope these 5 tips can get you started and I wish you all the best in your journey towards public speaking success!