Let me start off by saying that I’m not a member of the Illuminati. Neither am I a member of some secret guild of public speakers. If there are two secrets that you ought to know about money-making public speakers, it is that: a) Almost all of them grappled with stage fright (I did), and b) They probably sucked at the beginning of their career. Of course, if you had the chance to listen to a pro, you’d think that everything came easy to them. That leads us to the next point: c) It didn’t.
You’ve probably stumbled across this post because you’ve been given an opportunity to speak, informally or formally. While I cannot entirely guarantee your success, I’ve managed to pick up a few nuggets of wisdom over the years that I’d like to share. Hope these will help.
Practise. Practise. Practise. You can’t go from being a mediocre speaker to a top-notch one without paying your dues. I know I did. You can hire the best coaches in the industry but you won’t be at par with the best if you do not put hard work into it.
Define your goal. The quickest way to make a fool of yourself is to be entirely clueless about why you’re on the stage or podium. Do research on your topic. Know your audience.
Be genuine. Many would daresay that public speaking is a type of performance. True. But even more important to your audience is coming off as a genuine and trustworthy figure worth listening to. You can use compelling stats and facts to support your claims but you wouldn’t come close to being genuine if you’re not passionate about the subject.
And speaking of stats, don’t bore your audience with inconsequential data. Save that for dissertations. Even more important than citing pertinent data is making your claims relevant to your listeners.
The fear of public speaking often stems from the ego. No. People aren’t rooting for you to fail. Enough about yourself. Think of your audience and how you can make it worthwhile for them. What have you got to offer for them?
Use eye contact. Along with gestures, eye contact enables speakers to deliver more effectively. Move your gaze from left to the centre and to the right. Make eye contact with one person for about a second or two. I find this method an effective way to bring a bored person back into the “conversation.”
Don’t think of your speaking engagement as a chore that you have to get over and done with. Resist the urge to speed through your talk. Vary your tone, volume and even the pace of your talk. Nobody’s going anywhere. Not until you’ve finished.
Dive deep into the message that drives you and give a powerful voice to the inspiration inside! Hold nothing back as you move the hearts and minds of millions!