Here at The STRIVE, we want you to realize that you can become anything you want to be. Even if that something requires you to master the much-feared act of public speaking.
Too many of us forsake our dreams, and our chance to get our voice out into the world, because we feel like our ability to speak publicly isn’t adequate.
As such, the goal of this article is to give you some additional ways to help you improve your public speaking skills. Ultimately, by the end of this article, you should have a new set of public speaking tools that will strengthen your confidence; so you can become the Rockstar presenter your dreams require you to be.
For many, public speaking is public enemy number one. Most of you would rather go to the dentist than stand in front of a crowd and deliver your message. Why do I say this? Because research shows that 75% of people have some sort of speech anxiety.
Luckily, public speaking is like using a wood saw – practice makes you better at not chopping off a thumb. Sorry to be a party pooper if you think speaking confidently is the stuff of champions. It’s just the stuff of hard work.
Why do I say this? Well, time for some backstory.
I’ve been hosting events as a professional presenter in Dubai for the past 8 odd years now. And I can tell you that public speaking is a skill that can be learned. It’s not magic and it’s not about innate skill.
In fact, many professional public speakers are introverts in their personal life. Yet on stage, they light up with incandescent illumination.
How? Practice and method.
5 Ways to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills
So here we go. Method and preparation is the most important thing to becoming the best you can be. I’m going to give you five tips to help you overcome your internal public speaking demons. And by overcoming these public speaking hurdles, you will in turn, improve your public speaking skills.
Once we get into the thick of it, you’ll be amazed to see that it’s not even that difficult once you put your mind to it. Remember: practice and knowledge liberate. So, here we go:
Step 1 – Your work starts early
You watch Colbert on The Late Show, and he’s so natural. And that makes you think his work only starts when he goes into his studio. You’d be wrong. Pro presenters understand that the real work happens before the show starts.
Preparation is everything.
You need to know why your event exists. And also why your audience is coming to it. You find out what the key messages are, what appeals to your tribe, and why you’re being asked to do what you’re doing. Once you understand everyone’s motivations, you’re not just a player. Instead, you understand the game.
Bottom line: Know why people are at the event, and why the event is being held. And knit that throughout your spiel. It gives you control because you understand. Know your place and purpose in an event. Why are you on stage?
Step 2 – You put in the legwork
I mean literal legwork. Pace the stage. Actually walk it. In fact, walk the entire venue. It helps you take ownership – rather like a dog peeing against a fire hydrant. When you’ve walked the stage in an empty room, it isn’t as daunting when the room fills up. Your mind’s a beautiful wonderful thing, and has already decided you own the space. When you start talking, that’ll show.
Bottom line: Walking a space helps your mind take ownership of the stage. It’s your party and everyone is a guest. The power is yours.
Step 3: You defeat the obvious gremlins
If there is one thing that brings the fear back, it’s technical gremlins. The mics don’t work. The chairs aren’t right. The lights shine in your face. Luckily, most of these issues can be cured by preparation. Show up early. Check the lights. Test the sound. And have a chat with the sound team. You’ll find they’re lovely and eager to help you succeed. Preparation is the key to a positive frame of mind. Having all your t’s crossed and i’s dotted can remove much unneeded anxiety, which will undoubtedly improve your public speaking skills.
Bottom line: We all hate gremlins. But a little bit of prep will knock them out of the game so you can focus on being your best without distraction
Step 4: You remember your audience loves you
This is the most powerful tip I can give. Your audience isn’t against you. No one is here to see you fail. In fact, they’re rooting for you. I’ve seen what happens when a professional speaker stumbles. An invisible groan goes through the audience, and they tense up. Remember, they’ve shown up to this event and are as invested as you in making it a success. So tap into that energy. Talk to them. Address them. Surf their energy and circle it back. Tell them they’re safe. Because when they’re comfortable, so are you.
Bottom line: Don’t treat your audience as the unknown enemy. They want to see you, and the event, succeed. Tap their energy to buoy yourself.
Step 5: The big bad C word
We’ve all experienced charisma – that strange quality that people are either born with or not. Charismatic people have the world at their feet and orate like Cicero. Others just struggle.
Here’s the thing – someone else’s charisma is just your mind’s way of using shortcuts to tell you they are approachable and good at conversation. Like anything else, charisma can be learned. Remember Hegel – that old philosopher. He says that people attribute their best characteristics onto invisible forces, and are poorer for it.
Because what is charisma if not tricks of tone, body language and emotional availability? What is it if not a practiced ease at talking, listening and conversing? Your charisma flows from practice.
Bottom line: Charisma is just being open. It comes from body language, approachability, and the ability to speak well. And all those things can be practiced and mastered.
So there you have it, 5 sure-fire ways to help you improve your public speaking skills.
I hope these tips help you speak better in public. More than that, I hope they help you realise that what you think is outside your control is actually within it. Trust me – even pros get butterflies. We just use them to fly.