Are you the type of person who hates public speaking? Does the thought of speaking in front of a large group of people terrify you? Do you get extremely nervous when you are going to give a presentation or a speech? Do you get so afraid that you cancel the speech or simply do not give speeches at all?
I have been giving public speeches in some form or another since I was 13. In the next series of articles, I will give you tips and advice, from beginner to advanced tips, on ways you can maximize your public speaking and really become the speaker you envision yourself to be. If you have the mindset to get up in front of people and read from your speech, then you are a beginner speaker. Not there yet? These are the tips on how to get there.
Beginner’s Tip #1: Every person will need to speak in public.
Every person will need to speak in public at some point. Understand that YOU will need to speak in public too. Public speaking skills are especially paramount in business, marketing, law, politics, entertainment, education and any other field where people need to interact with other people. These skills are especially crucial if you want to become successful or well-known in your chosen field. The higher you go, the more public speaking you will do. Remember this: you can always hire someone to write for you, but you cannot hire someone to speak for you. If you are able to speak in front of your friends, you are able to speak in front of other people. If you start honing your speaking skills right now, you will be much better off when you do enter the spotlight.
Beginner’s Tip #2: It is okay to be nervous!
The feeling of nervousness is a natural human response to any situation that is unknown. And to many, public speaking IS uncharted territory. Remember this: it is perfectly acceptable to feel nervous. The important thing is to know what to do with that nervousness. I use nervousness to project my emotions outward, so my speech is dramatic and memorable. Sometimes you can even use nervousness in your speeches if you are using that emotion for a specific purpose, but nervousness should never control your speech. For example, if I am telling the audience a personal story (a great way to keep them engaged) and the person at this point in the story felt nervous, I will show that emotion in myself so the audience will understand what the person was going through. Nervousness can be used as one of the many tools in your arsenal, but you must never allow it to control you on stage. If you are a beginner in public speaking, you will feel nervous, but in all honesty, even advanced speakers have butterflies in their stomach!
Beginner’s Tip #3: The crowd wants you to succeed.
You must remember that many people who deliver public speeches are dry and boring. But the crowd does not laugh at them if they are a poor speaker: they simply lose interest and fall asleep. Remember this: the crowd WANTS you to succeed when you get up to the floor. They’ve heard so many mediocre speakers that they are BEGGING you to be dynamic and memorable because they want to be entertained and kept awake! Think about it this way: because you know from experience that most speakers are banal and bland, YOU are going to be dramatic and entertaining. You are going to be different.
Beginner’s Tip #4: Accept ALL public speaking opportunities.
In order to become a good public speaker, never turn down a speaking opportunity. Being asked to speak is an honor and even if you are uncomfortable with doing it, it will be a good way to practice. Public speaking is an art. You will only become a master at it if you practice-practice-practice on a regular basis. And the best way to practice is in front of a crowd.
Remember this: most people who do not engage in public speaking are missing out on future opportunities. The number one reason why people do not speak in public is because they are afraid too. If you utilize these tips, then you are well on your way to become a stellar public speaker.
Andrew Bruskin was president of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars’ National Leadership Council from 2007-2008 and has been president of its Alumni Advisory Board since 2010. He is chairman of the board of directors of Ecnaillá Groupe and will be working for a law firm in New York City upon graduating William & Mary Law School. For questions or comments, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and, of course, on Facebook.