For many people, public speaking is a massive challenge. Most people adamantly tell themselves they can’t do it, but this is far from being the truth.
I was one of those people who shied away from any public speaking opportunity until only a few years ago. I chose to overcome my fear and start the process of learning how to present in public.
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At that time I remember a friend telling me that she loved public speaking, and I was incredulous. How could anyone love speaking on stage?
Believe it or not, now I do. I love it! It’s so amazing to share my knowledge and experience, and know that my words are in the hearts and minds of the audience.
Like no other marketing activity, speaking in person to an audience has incredible power. You give people to opportunity to really get to know you. But more than that, you are able to share your wisdom and expertise in a personal and very real way.
It does take practice though. Public speaking didn’t come naturally even to some of the world’s best speakers. Take Steve Jobs for example, well-known for his incredible presentations, he practiced like crazy to create his on-stage charismatic and laid-back personality.
Here are some tips that will help you improve your public speaking:
1. Prepare and practice
It sounds so simple, but preparation really is the key, especially for controlling those nerves. Research your topic thoroughly and prepare your speech and then practice, practice, practice.
2. Know your audience
Before any speaking opportunity find out information about the audience. This will help you to tailor your speech to their needs and level of knowledge. You also need to think about the purpose of your presentation and the main points you want the audience to take away. You can then structure your presentation to make sure you connect with the audience.
3. Find your lighthouses
Find the lighthouses in the room. They are the people that are engaged and listening to you. Speak to them and they will feed you energy. It works every time.
4. Relax and deliver
Try to overcome your nerves. This can be difficult, but it’s important to relax and be yourself. You can use relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing to calm your nerves and make sure you are prepared. You are more likely to engage the audience is you speak clearly, stand tall and maintain good eye contact.
5. Become a regular public speaker
The more you practice public speaking, the more successful you will be. Start by speaking at small events and then build up to bigger ones. Say yes as much as possible to every speaking opportunity.
Remember, being in the spotlight isn’t about you; it’s about the people whose path you illuminate with your knowledge. The world needs to hear what you have to say. It’s your time to shine.
Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step-by-step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. She is also the director of CP Communications, which merges traditional PR tactics with cutting-edge social media strategies that engage consumers as well as business.