Dale Carnegie, the hugely successful motivational writer says, "The ability to conquer nervousness and speak with self confidence is not a gift bestowed by providence on only a few rarely endowed individuals.
Every one can develop his own latent capacity if he has sufficient desire to do so."
You too can become an effective public speaker. Here are a few tips:
Make your content simple and effective. It is far easier to use difficult words than to write or speak in a simple, unpretentious manner. In a recent article published in Readers Digest several examples were given to illustrate how foolish bombastic words can sound. 'Emanating from a culinary vessel into a site of pyrogenic activity' is simply is a round about way of saying - Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
If you want to write effectively, improve your vocabulary. You can do that by reading books on a wide variety of subjects. Make your dictionary and thesaurus your trusted friends. Dip into them whenever you come across a new word. You will soon start enjoying this hunt for words and meanings.
Speakers often avoid looking at the audience and look at the fan, outside the window, at the floor and practically everywhere else except where they should actually be looking. The audience feels alienated and switches off.
Most speakers feel nervous, especially during the beginning of the speech. When you feel butterflies doing a tango in your stomach, search for a friendly face in the crowd and, fixing your eyes on him or her, start your speech. Then quickly look for a few more friendly faces across the audience and let your eyes address them. A positive response such as a friendly nod or a smile should ease your nervousness. Once the butterflies have flown away let your gaze sweep across the audience and get ready to sweep them off their feet with your oratorical brilliance!
The delivery of the speech is as important, if not more, than the content. Make sure you modulate your voice properly. Many speakers tend to speak in staccato sentences or drone monotonously. Others raise their voices. Clearly they believe in the dictum that if you can't beat 'em, shout (at) 'em!
Learning the right way to modulate your voice takes a lot of practise.
Practice speaking in front of a mirror. Tape your speech and listen to it. These little exercises will help you iron out wrinkles in your modulation.
Accent is another area where many speakers flounder. Speak in your natural accent. Even if it doesn't sound like the Queen's English, it doesn't matter. You can always strive for improvement. But never put on an accent. It sounds terribly artificial and distracts the audience from your speech.
Make sure your posture is also your natural one. The audience will see through an artificial stance sooner or later. Remember, the audience is your customer and you are the product. It is going to view you as a complete package. Every aspect of your speech: your style, your personality and your attitude, is going to make an impact.
If you want to excel in public speaking you should be prepared to work with a lot of patience and focus. Demosthenes used to lisp. To improve his speech he would put pebbles in his mouth and practise his speech at night for hours on end. This indomitable will to win made him one of the greatest orators of all ages.
Take a speech with an impressive content, mix it with a good vocabulary, add a sprinkle of humour, stir it in your own words, add it to your memory, warm it on the hot plate of commitment and serve it with the correct amount of confidence, modulation, accent and attitude. And then, wait for the applause to follow.......
Public Speaking - I