It happens to everyone. You must give a speech for work, school, or a volunteer activity, and you are a nervous wreck. Public speaking is one of humanity's biggest fears. But you can not only train yourself to be less fearful when giving your speech, you can master the experience, and perhaps even make it enjoyable. Once you've written a solid speech, use a few important techniques when practicing.
Use a Mirror
This is a time-honored trick that will help you: practice in front of a mirror. Look down at the speech and memorize a sentence from it long enough to look up and state it clearly. The mirror will show you any unusual facial ticks or habits that may prevent you from giving an effective speech. It will show you whether or not you are standing up straight, projecting confidence, and generally looking calm and collected while enunciating.
Getting feedback from friends or trusted co-workers about a speech is an appropriate idea. Often, your speech, or the way you present it, can be full of flaws of which you are not aware. This may be because you are nervous about giving the speech, or have "familiarity blindness," something that occurs when your brain bypasses mistakes it has seen too many times. Ask for honest opinions about how to improve the speech, and consider them strongly.
If you are unable to get friends to help you, or prefer not to do so, using a tape recorder is another option that can provide you with valuable feedback about your speech. By listening to a recording, you will also be able to hear too-long pauses and filler words like "um" that you can work on eliminating.
Performing mediation or relaxation exercises before practicing your speech can help you feel calmer when you give it. Your mind will associate a relaxed state with reciting the words, a feeling that will carry over during the event itself.
Smiling when giving your speech may not come naturally at first, but, with practice, it can be a great asset. Smiling helps you feel more relaxed, and makes the audience feel friendlier toward you. Unless your speech is on a very somber topic, smiling puts both you and others in a good mood to enjoy the presentation.
You've probably heard it once, but it bears repeating: the key to a giving a good speech is practice, practice, practice. Don't just go over your speech the night before the event, or the day of it. Ideally, practice several times a day for a week before you need to give the speech. This will help you catch mistakes and flaws in your delivery early, as well as familiarize you with the material so that you can deliver it in a confident manner.
- The How of WOW: A Guide to Giving a Speech That Will Positively Blow 'Em Away; Tony Carlson; 2005
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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