Effective public speaking - for most of us, it doesn't come naturally and seems an impossible goal. In fact, studies have shown that people continue to list public speaking as one of their top phobias.
There's something about getting up in front of a group of people and talking that makes people extremely anxious.
Yet there are those - such as celebrities and politicians - who take to the podium and make it all seem so effortless.
It makes you wonder how they got so good at speaking in public! Were they born with innate talents to be great speakers, or did they learn effective public speaking skills along the way?
It's a pretty good bet that most of the great speakers had to learn a thing or two over the years.
Like any skill, effective public speaking can be learned, and there are some simple steps you can take to become more comfortable and more effective when speaking in public.
Quit Focusing on the Fear
Some people quake in their boots during the days and weeks leading up to the day of the speech. They take every opportunity to tell people how anxious they are. They even spend time telling themselves, via internal dialogue, that they are nervous.
You know what happens when you focus on these types of things? They come true.
Don't focus on how nervous you might be during your speech.
Dwelling on what YOU see as your short-comings is counter-productive. Instead, read these tips for overcoming public speaking anxiety and invest your energy in preparing a great speech that will wow your audience!
Remember, Nobody's Perfect
You can't expect to get up on stage and give a modern day Gettysburg Address. There is no such thing as perfection. Not in public speaking or any other venture in life.
Get past the idea that you have to deliver a flawless speech, because - as any seasoned public speaker will tell you - it's very unlikely to happen.
It's good to want to do your best and to have effective public speaking skills, but don't tax yourself with unrealistic expectations.
What you SHOULD expect is to prepare, practice and do your best. That's all you can do.
And on the subject of practice...
The old cliché isn't true - but even though practice may NOT make perfect, it can certainly make your speech a lot better.
We do things better when we do them repeatedly. Skills are developed over time and repetition is the best teacher there is. Take every opportunity to practice.
Practice in front of a mirror. Ask friends or family to be a small audience. Ask someone to film you, then watch yourself (cringe) to see how you could improve. Heck, you can even practice using your dog as an audience. The more you go through your speech, the smoother it will go when the big day finally arrives.
Developing effective public speaking skills may not happen overnight, but it's well worth putting in the effort. There are enormous benefits in becoming comfortable with public speaking which can influence all aspects of your day to day life.
As you become more proficient, you'll find yourself overcoming a fear that holds many people back from achieving their real potential. You may never become a professional speaker or entertainer, but mastering effective public speaking is a great investment to make in yourself.
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