Everyone can use some public speaking help at one time or another. Whether it's a small meeting at work or school, a speech at a family or social event, or a large public presentation or address: almost everybody has had or will have the experience of speaking in public at some point in their lives.
Here are a few tips to help you speak effectively and keep your nerves under control:
Memorizing your speech word for word keeps you locked in a rigid mental pattern, making every word out of your mouth dependent on remembering the word before it.
What if you don't remember a sentence, or skip a whole paragraph?
Forget a line or lose your place and you could wind up stammering nonsensically and feeling like a fool, whilst trying to get yourself back on track.
And if you bring a printed copy of your speech up there with you, then you only wind up squinting and fumbling around through your text to find where you left off and what comes next!
Reading or reciting a speech verbatim sounds awkward and it creates a barrier between you and your audience.
There several ways of building a feeling of connection with another person:
Eye-contact - Instead of trying to look at your entire audience with one broad-sweeping gaze, as if it was a single-minded organism, make eye contact with individual members of the audience throughout your speech. Speaking as if directly to one person at a time will not only make the entire audience feel more comfortable and your speech feel more intimate, but will also alleviate stress in you, the speaker.
Hands free - Instead of gripping the podium, table, easel, your notes, etc., keep your hands free. If you don't gesture with your hands when you talk, don't worry about it; just let your arms dangle at your sides. This may feel awkward to you at first, if you're not used to it, but it's actually a more relaxed position than tensely gripping a foreign object for strength, support, and comfort.
Humor - Break the ice; tell a joke. Make a slip of the tongue or get interrupted by something unexpected and beyond your control? Consider making a funny comment about it before going on; acknowledging the unplanned occurrence relieves the audience's momentary discomfort as well as your own.
Personalize - Lastly, and on the same note, include at least one personal story or example in your talk. There's always a way to work something personal into any subject. It helps people relate to a topic more when they see it applied to someone's life; it helps people relate to you more when it's your experience you're relating.
You're human, they're human; be human! It's endearing.
I hope this public speaking help will encourage you to step up and become more comfortable delivering your next speech. You can do it!
Public Speaking Phobia
Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking
The Importance of Public Speaking
Tips for Dealing With Anxiety (1)
Tips for Dealing With Anxiety (2)
Public Speaking Made Easy
Exercises to Try
How to GROW Your Confidence