Public speaking used to be something many people try to avoid and even dread. The trend seems to be changing now. As more schools, colleges and universities establish public speaking or debate clubs, the people of “Generation Y” and probably “Z” appear to be more confident to speak in public nowadays.
It is also heart warming to observe many multinational corporations establishing Toastmasters Clubs in their organization for their employees. These employers have realized that it is crucial to train their employees in the art of public speaking in order to uplift the self-confidence of their employees.
We may occasionally get overcome by nervousness before and during our presentations. This can cause our breathing to go haywire and eventually leave us gasping for breath. Your nerves will make your muscles contract and can make your chest feel heavy. Don’t be alarmed. This is natural. You are not going to get a heart attack.
When you feel nervous it is a good idea to speak slowly. Focus on breathing every six to eight words. Just take a few deep breaths before starting your talk to put yourself at ease.
When you commence your speech, ensure that you have a focal point in the room, which can act to give you reassurance. This could be a friendly looking person in the room. When you lose focus and forget your lines, just look at this friendly face for emotional support. By doing so, you will quickly bounce back on track.
Though I do plan and rehearse my speech thoroughly, I do not recite it word for word. It’s impossible to do so anyway. A wise man once said that there will always be 3 versions of your speech; the version you wanted to deliver, the version you delivered and the version the press said you delivered 🙂
Some orators prefer to just write down keywords or key subjects on paper which they keep in their pocket in case they need to look at it. This then ensures that they do not forget what they wanted to say. I prefer to write my speech word for word. By doing so, I can easily recycle my old speeches for future use by simply copying one paragraph from one speech and pasting it in another speech. This fusion enables me to create a totally new speech quickly.
However, do remember that while I write my speeches word for word, I do not recite it verbatim. The latter will make my speech sound robotic and boring.
If possible, I would prefer to start off my speech with a short joke, which can then act as an ice breaker. However, the joke needs to be relevant to the speech. I remember a speech I delivered many years ago. It was my last day at my place of employment. My colleagues had chipped in some money to buy me a farewell present. I then had to say a few words of appreciation to them. I knew many weeks in advance that this fateful day would arrive where I would have to deliver this speech. I felt quite stressed.
I was scheduled to speak for ten minutes in front of a hundred people. Here’s how I started. “I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the purchase of this wonderful gift. Those of you who did not contribute to it, I will see you outside later.” This joke bought me some time and helped me to relax. As some of my colleagues laughed, I felt more confident in myself.
I will share my other insights with you in my subsequent articles. I wish you the very best in your public speaking journey. Our paths will cross someday. When it does, please tell me your success story.
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