Public speaking is the process or act of performing a speech to a live audience. Public speaking is commonly understood as formal, face to face, speaking of a single person to a group of listeners. The opportunity to travel is greater for public speakers than in many jobs. Good speaking skills are important in other areas of life. Being a good public speaker can enhance your reputation, boost your self-confidence. The truth is that you might have the best products or services, years of experience, or an outstanding business idea, but if you do not communicate this to your target audiences, you are limiting your effectiveness.
The art of public speaking holds many practical benefits that go far beyond delivering a project presentation or holding a successful meeting. Through preparation and practice, you can overcome your nervousness and perform exceptionally well. This article will explain how.
‘Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively’ – Gerald R. Ford
Importance of Public Speaking
Developing your communication skills and learning to speak in public have the following advantages:
- Opens up new opportunities for career advancement
- Positions you as an authority
- Makes you a desirable guest at local, regional, and national conferences, seminars, and public speaking events
- Establishes greater credibility and helps your clients loyalty
- Sets you apart from your competition
- Attracts the right customers to your business
- Prepares you for spontaneous speaking challenges
- Presents technical or business information effectively
- Allows you to effectively market your business or promote your products to larger audiences
- Improves internal communication
- Helps you to easily assume leadership and train others
- Increases employees productivity
Other personal benefits of public speaking include:
- Increased self-confidence
- Improved communication skills
- Increased organizational skills
- Greater social influence
- Enhanced ability to listen
- Greater possibility of meeting new people
- Lesser anxiety and fear when speaking in front of others
- Greater control over emotions and body language
Three parts of Persuasion by Aristotle
The first rules of a public speech were elaborated over 2000 years ago by the Greek philosopher and teacher of Alexander the Great - Aristotle
Three Basic Parts of Persuasion:
- Ethos( credibility or the speaker)
- Logos (the logic behind any conclusions drawn by a speaker)
- Pathos ( emotional appeal or ability to create a connection between the speaker and his audience)
Vital Step before the Speech Preparation
To make your speech both interesting and memorable for the listeners, it is important to consider three key elements:
- The audience – WHO is the speech written for?
- The purpose – WHAT is the main objective of the speech?
- The direction of the speech – HOW will the speech be presented?
First, make sure that you plan your communication appropriately. Use tools like the Rhetorical Triangle, Monroe's Motivated Sequence, and the 7Cs of Communication to think about how you'll structure what you're going to say. Rehearsing is a part of the planning process. You decide how you will present the information and then practice running through the entire speech as many times as necessary to get the feeling that you want. Planning gives you time to ask questions of the person or organization inviting you to speak. Find out what they expect as well as the likes and dislikes of the group. When you rehearse your presentation, ask a trusted friend or colleague to watch you.
Engage With Your Audience
When we speak publicly is develop a relationship with our audience. A relationship is based on trust, respect, information, and interaction. Utilize activities that promote audience engagement. Make your points into an audience debate. Small group activities will not only keep your audience awake but they'll get excited about their ‘part’. Recent studies show that the first lapse of attention happens about halfway through that first minute.
Creating desire in the audience and then showing how your ideas fill that desire moves people to adopt your perspective. This is the heart of the story.
Attention to Body Language
'If you want to find the truth, do not listen to the words coming to you. Rather see the body language of the speaker. It speaks the facts not audible.' - Bhavesh Chhatbar
Body language is an essential part of public speaking success. Your non-verbal hint will impact the way your message is received, how engaged your audience is, and what they think of you as an individual.
In 2011, US social psychologists Amy Cuddy, Dana Carney, and Andy Yap proposed that holding a ‘powerful pose’ resulted in people feeling more powerful.
- Stand straight with your shoulders back and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Imagine your shoulders opening up from one another so that they rest centrally.
- Place your hands on either side of your body so that you can easily make hand gestures when you need to.
- Face the audience as much as possible. If you’re in a large room, tilt your whole body towards different parts of the audience so everyone feels included.
Accomplished speakers are aware of this and often use the power of pause to:
- Raise the impact of a remark
- Bridge ideas
- Underline the last thing that was said
- Create anticipation for the next remark
- Instill more humor and passion into the presentation
- Give time for the listeners to absorb the information
- Leave the room for reflection after questions
‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!’ — John C. Maxwell
Making eye contact with your audience builds a connection between you and them and they feel more valued by you. This makes the audience more likely to respect and listen to you because they feel important.
When used correctly, hand and arm gestures can help enhance your message and make you seem more confident and relaxed. Hand gestures are one of the clearest non-verbal ways by which we communicate confident body language or nervous body language - and your audience will react more positively to the former.
Moving around the stage is a great way of showing your audience you are confident in what you’re saying and including everyone in the conversation. Move during the transitions between points, knowing exactly where you want to go. During the transitions between movements, take your time to pause and look into your audience’s eyes.
‘ The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives.’ – Lilly Walters
People depend on facial expressions to interpret motives and emotions so an audience will respond better to you if you are expressive. Mimic is still important because public speakers who want to convince have to be authentic. And that includes lively facial expressions. With a smile or even a laugh, it is easier to build a bridge with other people. Keep looking at all faces be attentive. Return a smile.
Vocal expression is physical and so your body language has an effect on your voice and can enhance or detract from the message of your speech. When you speak more slowly, your voice has more power and authority. Your listeners have an opportunity to absorb and reflect on what you’re saying. Energy is essential for good speaking and voice projection.
‘7 - 38 - 55 Rule’. That is: our words convey 7% of the meaning, our tone 38%, and our body language makes up 55% of what the audience will remember.
Improve at these Points
- Research & Grammar
- Questions and answers & Humor
- Instruction sets & Improvisational skills
- Openings and closings & Negotiation
- Etiquette & Listening skills
Ways to Transform the Public Speaking Fear into Excitement
- Deep breathing
- Shifting focus outwards
- Focussing on facts, not fears
- Building your speech on clarity, not complexity