Words are a passage to our ideas, our soul, and the vortexes of communication. Many of us dream of being flamboyant, confident, assured speakers: walking up on that stage and delivering the best, most influential speech.
But 4 out of 5 times, that’s not how it works. A (sometimes) intimidating audience, and seemingly a thousand eyes on you doesn’t sound like a good combination. As a result, you may feel uncomfortable, nervous, wavering – but good news! With a few tricks and some practice, you can own any stage.
The most important, and arguably, most effective way is to make sure you’re prepared.
Especially if you’ve been assigned a topic, or have been informed ahead of time, it’s wise to have a general gist on what exactly you’ll be saying. This could mean having your research ready, having a speech typed up, or memorizing a few key points you know you want to address. By doing so, you’ll save yourself a whole lot of stress that often pops up before a presentation, and make it much easier for the audience to buy what you’re selling. Having a general idea of what you’ll be saying also makes you look a lot more accountable and organized, and it’s much more likely that your point will be clear and understood.
You may feel uncomfortable and tense before standing up and delivering your spiel. To make it easier for yourself and enjoyable for your audience, try to establish a strong connection with your listeners. If the context and setting is appropriate, an informal style of speaking comes off as more relatable than a formal one. By being relatable and approachable, you become much more engaging and dynamic. Having that unspoken bond with the people you’re speaking to creates a calm atmosphere where everyone is comfortable and on the same page.
If you do fumble and slip up, the most effective way to counter it, is to ignore it. While blatantly pushing the problem away doesn’t always work in other scenarios, it is the best mechanism you could pull in a speech. Why? Well, the chances of your audience recognizing that you made a mistake are slim – often, you’re the only one who notices the hiccup, and if you don’t dwell on it, they won’t either. At the same time, don’t frantically worry about the bumps along the road – pick yourself up quickly and move on, nobody’s here to judge you.
The chances of your audience recognizing that you made a mistake are slim – often, you’re the only one who notices the hiccup, and if you don’t dwell on it, they won’t either.”
If you’re really set on improving, there is a way you can channel the errors you made and grow from them. After your speech, mentally consider what areas you believe you did well on and what some areas of growth are. Keeping these in mind, in a positive way, can assist you in your presentations in the future, and ultimately strengthen your skills in speech. If you want to take this a step further, you can ask a trusted individual to record you presenting. After watching the video or listening to the audio recording, you’ll figure out first-hand what you could work on.
Never allow a few insignificant miscalculations get in the way of your confidence.
Take this opportunity to learn about yourself – what techniques do and don’t work for you, and how to branch off from there. Every opportunity is a chance for self-improvement.