Public speaking is a science and art of communication that enables an individual to pass a message to the audience in a clear and articulate manner in order to convince the audience. According to Livingston (2010), not many people have learnt the art of public speaking and presentation. The issue is not brought about by lack of what to say, but a strong form of public phobia.
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Some people have big problems when it comes to public speaking, especially before a larger and more enlightened audience. They develop some nervousness before the audience and end up performing very poorly in their presentation.
Nervousness is always associated with lack of confidence in one’s self. It is brought about by the fear that others will probably judge the speech and the speaker unfairly. It may also be brought about by setting the goals to high to be realized in order to please the public.
Public speaking and presentation should not be a complex task to the speaker. It is normal and even beneficial for the speaker to feel a little nervous when planning to make a public speech, especially when the speech is expected to generate a massive change of thought to the audience. However, this nervousness should be transformed into enthusiasm to deliver quality speech to the audience.
The speaker must understand that the audience is determined to make his speech a success and that is why they are seated to listen. For this reason, the speaker must take up the challenge, develop positive attitude and manage the nerves in order to deliver a quality speech. This research will focus on better public speaking and presentation.
How to Make Public Speaking and Presentation a Success
There have been arguments that some people are naturally born with the capacity to make powerful presentation, while others are naturally shy. Other scholars have also argued that ability of an individual to make a better public speech and presentation would depend on the confidence inculcated in him or her in the family and at school during the developmental stage.
These arguments may be true, but they are not a focus on this paper. The focus of the paper is how to develop a powerful speech and presentation irrespective of one’s background. The following are some of the tips one should learn and embrace in order to make powerful speeches to the public.
Make a Plan
Huff (2008) says that public speaking does not just happen automatically. The process should be planned for if one expects a success. In this case, planning will start by understanding the material to be presented. The speaker must internalize what the message is, and why it is important to the audience. The speaker must try to visualize the possible reactions of the audience.
He should then determine how to take advantage of their reaction. A detailed research into that particular topic would help the speaker have a mastery of it. This will give him or her sense of authority over the topic. It would be easier for the speaker to respond to questions that may be posed by the audience during the speech.
Practice the Speech
Some of the most admired public speakers developed their skills gradually through constant practice. It is a fact that a great speech will be given if the speaker knows how to present the material and how to work-up the audience positively. This does not come automatically. It requires the speaker to make constant practice on how the speech would be.
This may involve speaking before an imagined audience (inside an empty hall perhaps) and recording the voice. The speaker would then listen to his own speech and make changes as may be appropriate. This should continue until the speaker feels that he or she is satisfied with the speech.
Engage with the Audience
According to Jaffe (2012), most audience does not prefer passive listeners when a speech is made. They like participating in the process, however minimal their participation could be.
When a speaker engages the public, he or she will make them active listeners who are participating in the speech. It is very easy to fight nervousness by actively engaging the public. For instance, when one poses a question to an audience, the attention of the audience will shift from the speaker to the audience who is asked the question.
The speaker can grab this opportunity to rearrange himself and be ready to deliver a more powerful presentation. Active audience participation will also reassure the speaker that his speech is being followed, especially when there is a nod and some other forms of approval from the audience. This helps increase the confidence levels and motivation for the speaker.
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Know the Audience and Familiarize with the Room
Being a stranger is always associated with increased nervousness. When one finds him or herself in a completely new set up, and with peoples who are total strangers, then it becomes possible to make a great speech because the attention will be divided. The speaker will be trying to familiarize with the place and the people during the process of making the speech.
This should be avoided as much as possible. This can be achieved by making a prior visit to the place where the speech is to be made. This familiarity increases confidence levels. The speaker should also get to know a few people who will make the audience.
Presence of familiar faces in the audience would help reassure the speaker and encourage him or her to make a powerful presentation. A prior knowledge of the audience may also help the speaker have a clue as to some of the possible questions they can raise during the presentation. This would enhance the planning process.
Realize that the Audience Expects Success
Griffin (2012) once said that the moment one realizes that he is given opportunity to speak as others sit and listen, then he should know that he has something of value to offer to the public. Time is very precious, and the moment people come together to listen to a speech of another individual, it is important for the speaker to honor the privilege.
He or she must realize that the audience wants him to succeed in the speech and that is why they are seated to listen. The speaker must not perceive the audience as individuals who are determined to criticize the speech or any little mistake the speaker makers.
On the contrary, the speaker should view the audience as people who have come to listen and support the message the speaker is passing across to the people. This feeling would help the speaker create some form of cordial relationship with the audience that will help fight nervousness.
Concentrate on the Message other than the Medium
When one sets forth to deliver a speech, it is important to give maximum concentration to the message other than the medium of delivery. This would help shape the focus. It is not always guaranteed that the audience would always be supportive and friendly to the speaker. It is a common occurrence for an individual to be jeered by the audience if the issue under discussion is controversial or in cases of political rallies.
The jeering will always affect the medium of delivering the message. If an individual gives too much attention on the medium, then he or she would lose focus when this medium is affected. In order to achieve the desired success, the speaker must focus on the message and make it as articulate and convincing as possible.
The speaker must realize that others could have misled the jeering audience and that it is his responsibility to make the records straight. It would be a pleasant surprise to see that after ignoring the jeers and pushing on with the message to the audience, the jeers turns into cheers.
Develop Captivating Experiences or Stories on the Topic
When delivering a speech, one may realize that it reaches a moment the audience loses concentration on the presentation. This is common when the speech in long. A speaker can detect this detachment by identifying if some audience are dozing off, or engaging in other activities that are not part of the presentation. This should be a signal to the speaker.
He should realize that something must be done to draw their attention back. To do this, the speaker must do or say something that will arouse their attention. It is at this moment that one should bring in a narration of personal experience or relevant story to the message being passed across. The message should be either thrilling or scaring to the audience.
Some people would pay more attention when there is a mentioned of an issue that may be a threat to their comfort. This may involve saying how some people perished or suffered due to lack of information that you are now presenting. The experience should be real, and preferably one that the audience can recall.
Alternatively, one can bring in an experience or story of people who succeeded because of the message being passed across because others are always very active when it comes to motivational stories.
The speaker can also consider bringing in an amusing story that would make the audience laugh and refocus on the speech he is making. The small but relevant deviations from the main topic help fight monotony and boredom among the audience.
Pay Special Attention to the Body Language
To make a powerful presentation, one needs more than just a clear voice and a mastery of the message to be passed across. A powerful presentation would need involvement of one’s entire body. This starts from the dress code one chooses when planning to make a speech. The mode of dressing should be conscious of the kind of audience one plans to address.
For this reason, it would be illogical for the speaker to casual dressing when going to address an official forum. This is because the first impression that people have about a person always shape their judgment of the person.
This impression is always based on the presentation of the person in terms of dress code, the condition of the hair and such other related issues. The speaker should avoid cases where the audience dismisses him or her before the speech due to the attire chosen.
Once in the podium, it is importance for the speaker to realize that the body language is very important in capturing the attention of the audience. Standing motionlessly and being unemotional during the speech presentation will help in diverting the attention to other things. They will slowly drift from the speech, and unless something is done to salvage the situation, the speech will make no impact on them.
To avoid such cases, public speaker should walk along the podium, use hands and body to emphasize on some points, and maintain direct eye contact with some audience. Facial expressions such a smile, a frown when needed, a wink, and such other expressions should constantly are used.
It is true that making a successful speech may be a challenge to many. However, what a public speaker must realize when making a speech is that in order to deliver a powerful speech, there is needed to plan. Powerful presentations do not just come automatically.
They are planned and carefully practiced. When making speech presentation, a speaker should realize that feeling nervous is normal, but the nervousness should be managed in order to make the speech a success. Use of relevant stories and body language can help improve the presentation.
Griffin, C. (2012). Invitation to public speaking. Australia: Cengage Learning.
Huff, W. (2008). Public speaking: A concise overview for the twenty-first century. New York: Peter Lang.
Jaffe, C. (2012). Public speaking: Concepts and skills for a diverse society. Boston: Cengage Learning.
Livingston, R. (2010). Advanced public speaking: Dynamics and techniques. Bloomington: Xlibris Corp.