Does speaking in public give you nightmares? For most people, the idea of speaking in front of an audience is nothing short of frightening. You may think effective speakers are born that way. You’re wrong! It is a skill that has to and can be learned.

Public speaking has always been a challenge for many. However, nowadays, it has become more important for one to be able to speak or convey their ideas in front of others clearly. Be it a group discussion or a presentation, good public speaking skills always help you leave a strong and healthy impression in front of the audience. The key to good speaking skills is practice. Seriously, I’m not bluffing. I know of a lady who hardly spoke English but now earns 40k per session. How will it happen? You just need to work on your skills daily. But how? Let me help you with this. There are crucial steps one must take before and during the act of public speaking that will guarantee that a speaker is not only heard but understood.

8 Steps to overcome your nightmare of public speaking:

  1. Speech writing: Preparing for a public speech is a must. While not every public speaking activity will require a person to sit down and write out a speech on paper, it is always helpful to do so. Writing down the introduction and key points of a presentation ensures that everything is covered. That helps you to get comfortable with the topic.
  2. Dealing with stage fright: After writing a speech, the speaker often becomes nervous about actually speaking their thoughts in front of a group of people. Practice can be done in front of the mirror or you could request your friends or family to be your audience. Once a person is comfortable with their speech or presentation, they can focus on becoming more comfortable with their audience.
  3. Make eye contact: When it comes to delivering a confident presentation, making eye contact with your audience is one of the best things you can do for yourself. If you step on stage with your eyes glued to your notes, then not only will your audience know just how nervous you are but they’ll also have a tough time connecting with your message.
  4. Avoid filler words: One of the biggest mistakes newbies make is packing their presentations full of ‘uhs’, ‘ums’ and ‘you knows’. Peppering your presentation with these filter words signals to your audience that you’re not as well prepped as you could be and it makes your talk mundane and unengaging.
  5. Body language as a tool: Your body language is extremely important when it comes to both how confident you look and how confident you feel. Make gestures while talking. Don’t be afraid to move about the room. Make your body feel relaxed and ease. Think of your body as a tool that adds to your presence and substantiates what you’re saying.
  6. Less is more: Just like you don’t want to sit through a lengthy presentation, neither does your audience. Edit your content down to just the key highlights and fit your talk in the timeframe allotted to you. The less you can say about your topic while getting your message across, the better.
    Remember: This doesn’t mean that the important points which are essential to the narrative of your subject are skipped. It just means that what you are saying should be comprehensive yet concise.
  7. Tell a story: People love a good story. So, if you want to be a more effective speaker, tell a story. It is a great way to make your material more engaging and to relate to your audience. Try spinning a yarn around your subject matter even if it is highly technical. Some casual joking around is also appreciated while addressing audiences in informal gatherings.
  8. Pace Yourself: When it comes to public speaking, a common debutant error is to speak too quickly, making it harder for your listeners. Take a deep breath before you start and don’t hold your breath during the entire speech (which most people do without even realizing it). Relax. Make your speech appear more natural.

I realize that practising every day can be really hard but that’s what it takes to become a great orator. No excuses.

 “All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson