Public speaking is as easy as ABC… or is it?
With a little practice, we can all speak clearly, we can all make dynamic gestures, we can all talk with passion, but how many of us can do it in front of an audience?
There’s a great line in one of the Sharpe TV movies, Sean Bean who plays Sharpe is addressing a group of soldiers who are about to see action for the first time.
He looks at the raw recruits and says…
“When the French attack, they advance in lines. Whatever happens, they keep moving forward.
All you have to do is fire three rounds a minute and stand your ground.
Now we all know that you can fire three rounds a minute… but can you stand?”
It’s the same with public speaking, you have to know how to put a speech together and deliver it with style, but you have to be able to look straight at the audience… and hold your nerve.
The first part… putting the speech together and delivering it… is about speech technique, and this bit is farly easy. It covers things such as:
- Structuring your speech so that the audience can follow easily
- Preparing notes to help with delivering your speech
- Making eye contact with the audience
- Using vocal variety to liven up your speech
- Pausing at just the right moment… in order to add drama or emphasise a point
- Using humour to give the audience a break from a heavy message
- Controlling your hands and using gestures that add drama or emphasise a point
There are lots of speech techniques (and we’ll cover them one by one in future articles) and you can learn most of them by reading books, watching videos or observing other speakers. You need to be in front of an audience to polish these skills but you can learn a lot well away from the dreaded audience.
Holding your nerve
The second part… holding your nerve… is the hard bit, it requires learning a few techniques and lots of practice. For most of us, it’s the bit we focus on, unfortunately this bit gets in the way of all the other bits, so we can’t ignore it.
Techniques to help with nerves include:
- Positive self talk
- Deep breathing
- Practising as though you had an audience
- Practising in front of friends and family
- Practise in front of an audience
Practise both bits
Our advice is to practise both bits… learn as much technique as you can by reading books, watching videos, visiting public speaking blogs and of course… visiting this site.
At the same time start working on the nerves. Join a Speakers Club (more of that in future articles) and get some real life practice, audience and all, in a friendly and supportive environment.
It can all seem too much when you first start, but don’t worry, over the next weeks, months even years, we’ll teach you how to fire three rounds a minute, and more importantly… we’ll teach you how to stand!
Thanks to stock.xchng for allowing us to use their ABC image