Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Public Speaking can be daunting and that is rather a mild word to be used. It can petrify some and for some it is the biggest fear of them all. But one cannot shun it. Mastering the Art of Public Speaking is a helpful tool in almost all areas of life, be it for career advancement, in personal relationships, to clinch that very important deal or to get your point across in a discussion, great public speaking skills will always give you that edge. If you are a Motivational Speaker, you will find a number of new speaking opportunities opening up for you, from people who have watched you speak. If you are in business or in business development, you will find yourself getting new clients and business from people who have experienced your gift of the gab.
Acquiring Public Speaking Skills is a great way to increase confidence levels and build credibility with people you interact. The other skills that one gains by being a great speaker, in a nutshell can be, you become an achiever, creative to the core, develop critical thinking skills and leadership skills. Apart from this, the confidence you gain brings with it poise, awareness and professionalism. All these qualities go a long way to up your eligibility quotient in the job market or to achieve your goals, whatever it may be.
But for many, Public Speaking is like a nightmare. Wild horses couldn’t drag them to speak in public. Even the thought of going up there and speaking in front of an audience is enough to give them the chills. Brain starts fogging up, nerves become bundled, and you break into a nervous sweat. What they don’t know is, that this happens even to people who are skilled and experienced public speakers. Everyone who has to go up there and face the public, feel uneasy and nervous, but they know how to conquer their fear, turn their weakness into strengths and confidently present themselves. They have the Do’s and Dont’s of Public Speaking at their fingertips.
Here, we will get some knowledge on the Dont’s, what to avoid when speaking to an audience.
DON’T GO UN-PREPARED Don’t try to fib it. Don’t take shortcuts. And worst of all, don’t go out there thinking you can remember everything without being prepared. Preparation is a science and mastering it is the key for effective public speaking. It will take some of your time but the end result will leave you happy and confident that you have given a wonderful speech and the audience will leave happy with the take away from the speech. Do your research, write down your thoughts and build a flow to your material. Just jotting down few points and thinking you will be able to pull through is doing a disservice to the audience and to yourself. Fumbling and skid driving through the speech could leave a negative impression on your audience and loss of face and credibility for yourself.
DON’T ASSUME YOU KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE Research your audience well before and at the beginning of the speech. It will help you refine your speech to better engage your audience. The more you know about your audience, the more powerful your speech outcome would be. Don’t assume your audience would think like you. Audience perceptions change as per the demographics, location, language or country they come from. To connect with your audience, you need to understand them and why your topic would be important to them, the learning they would derive from your speech. With this knowledge, you could express yourself better and avoid gaffes. Another important thing to note is – do not take your audience lightly or think that they don’t know any better. It would be insulting to present basic information to a highly knowledgeable audience, or to use a high level jargon speech for a novice audience. Both would fall flat.
DON’T SPEAK ON IRRELEVANT CONTENT/TOPICS One of the biggest blunders of public speaking is speaking about topics that are irrelevant and using jargon that the audience won’t understand. Else it would be a classic case of the audience expecting cake and having to do with bread. Your speech should be relevant to your audience. It would defeat the purpose of the speech if we are not sure of our content or talk out of context. Our speech should have a message or a call to action that will leave the audience with a take away they can not only reflect upon but are inspired to take actions that will change their lives for the better.
DON’T ‘PARROTIZE’ YOUR SPEECH Imagine a speaker continuously looking at the screen and read out word to word, what appears on the screen. Or a speaker, in a monotone talking about a topic without any expressions, or body language or energy. Would the session be an interesting one or a boring and utter frustrating one? If you just keep reading out the content, first thing that you would lose is eye contact with your audience and with that their attention. Come prepared with anecdotes, questions, case studies, facts and figures. Throwing in some questions or a joke in the middle of the session will pep up their interest and keep them engaged.
DON’T BE OVER DEPENDENT ON VISUALS Technology is a boon to human beings and a lot of good things are done with the help of technology. But technology needs the backing of power supply, batteries, internet, and so on. What if you have prepared a great speech, are fully pepped up and confident that you will nail this presentation? But when you start, the internet goes off, or there is some error with your laptop or projector. What then?? Don't become a victim of the power point. It is a great tool but be prepared to speak even without it. In the event of any such mishaps occurring, be ready to engage your audience with relevant content, engaging body language and direct eye contact. Draw energy from your audience by making the session interactive and interesting. Engage with them. This would be your best chance to make those connections that would fetch results later.
DON'T BE A LOUDSPEAKER Refrain from speaking too loud or too soft. Nobody likes to listen to people with a loud voice or loud actions. Refrain from speaking too fast or too slow either. Speaking with a fast pace, and tripping over words, shows that you either want to get the whole thing done with or are very nervous. Speaking hesitantly or too slow shows that you are either unprepared or have come there under duress. Both these scenarios will not do you any good. If the problem is nervousness, take a deep breath before coming to the stage. Deep breathing prior to the speech sets the tone for the speech and is one sure way to ensure success. Speaking too quietly or in a whispery tone could also annoy listeners.
Learning the correct nuances of public speaking will go a long way in ensuring that you are prepared to give your best, be it any occasion. The best part is, once you have nailed the process, there is no looking back. The credibility and networking opportunities that public speaking brings, provides innumerable chances of finding work, respect, monetary gains as well as a number of personal and professional benefits, that you can use in all walks of your life.