Public speaking is a skill you can master, even if you are nervous in front of crowds. The most important thing to keep in mind when you have to make a speech is to stop dwelling on yourself and how you are feeling. By thinking about your uncomfortable feelings, such as shaky voice, sweaty palms or quivering hands, you are probably worsening your symptoms and increasing your own nervousness.
Think about your audience and what they are coming to hear. They are probably not particularly interested in you as a person; they are interested in the information you have to share with them. Whether you are giving a speech as part of a public speaking class, or you are required to do a presentation at work, your audience is interested in hearing information.
There are right ways and wrong ways to relay information. You have probably attended lectures where the speaker spoke in a monotone, lacked enthusiasm and quickly lost the interest of the crowd. He may have had a fantastic store of information, but if he relayed the information in an uninteresting and unenthusiastic way, nobody was able to pay attention long enough to hear the information he had to share.
By thinking about the crowd and what they are hoping to hear, you take your focus off your own nervousness and put it instead onto how you can best relay what you have to tell them. Another way to put your focus on the crowd is to actually ask them what questions they hope to have answered and what information they would like explained in further detail.
For anyone who is introverted or shy, or just lacks confidence in public speaking, preparing your speech ahead of time goes without saying. Make clear notes and organize them in a way that you can read and understand. Don’t write out your entire speech to read. Just have a list of topics that you want to cover and keep brief notes where you can refer to them if you lose your train of thought.
It may be hard for you to believe, but chances are good that the audience may not be able to tell you are nervous. Focus on acting as if you are self-assured and confident. Here are a few ways to accomplish that:
• Make eye contact with the audience.
• Deliver your speech in a strong, clear voice.
• Keep your sense of humor, and throw in some jokes or anecdotes to keep audience attention. Personal stories about your life make you more human and likeable to your audience.
• Utilize visual aids such as a PowerPoint presentation.
Try to give the audience what they want: an informative and interesting speech. By focusing on the audience and what they are hoping to hear and not dwelling on your own discomfort, you will be able to deliver a speech to remember. Public speaking may never be one of your favorite things to do, but it is a skill you can learn and improve with practice.
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