Do you remember that research assignment in high school where the instructor asks you to present your findings to the class? What were you dreading the most, not having the material or talking about it in front of the class? You’re probably thinking both, but realistically, people have the tendency to shy away from public speaking. I know I did, but over time that fear of failure drifted away with a new boost of confidence. So how do you exactly develop your speaking voice?
For beginners, it helps when your speaking on a topic that is of general interest to you. For example, you’re a journalism major in college and you have the choice of preparing a speech about notable authors in the Enlightenment Era vs. a debate on mentoring troubled youth. Which one is likely to catch your attention first? The more knowledgeable you are in a specific area, the more at ease you will be to talk about it.
Fear of public speaking is all about how you perceive yourself. It’s a psychological battle between your inner and outer voice. Instead of focusing on the main point you need to get across to your audience, your wondering about how silly you look twittering your thumbs. Its perfectly normal to feel nervous or jittery but don’t let it get the best of you. People don’t want to acknowledge a speaker that can’t get past the introduction! Prepare yourself mentally and physically.
So how do I get up enough confidence, and be able to maintain it, for the duration of my speech? Well, take a step by step approach:
Your Opening Is Everything! You have to be able to captivate your audience right off the bat. Once the focus is on you and you have your audience either laughing or just entertained, then the rest will follow.
Meditate. Take a few minutes before your big break to refresh those points of interest you want to stand out. Don’t bully yourself the night before trying to remember your whole speech word for word. Jot important points down on a note card. Make sure you know the material because your audience will ask questions.
Appearance. Make sure you are well put together at least an hour before hand. Don’t wait till the last minute to wonder whether your hair is in place,whether your shoes match, or whether this tie looks ridiculous with this suit. This is last minute stress that will only decline your confidence.
Pay attention to other speakers. What did you like about them? What didn’t you like about them? Was their delivery good enough to grasp and keep your attention? Try and learn from other’s mistakes instead of letting yourself set that standard!
Be Brief and Straight Forward. This will keep you from getting sidetracked and rambling on and on about a subject. Organization is the key.
Overall, just remember to alleviate all factors of stress before getting up in front of a crowd. There is such a thing as good nervousness, because it motivates you to want to do your best. Before long you will have acquired your own, individual speaking voice!