Lights on.. Grab the Mike .. and here it goes – ' A warm evening to one and all present here '.. err... how to proceed next? Well, join the club. Even after hours of rehearsal, public speaking can be intimidating. So how to overcome the stage fear and make a mark among your audience? Here's how to improve your Public Speaking Skills:
Structure your talk in the form of stories. Stories are a powerful medium of conveying your thoughts. That's why David and Goliath are still alive, even after the death of our storytellers. Stories create a visual impact and give wings to the audience’s imagination. Hence, craft your pitch accordingly.
No matter how many hours you invest in crafting your story, it goes wasted if you don’t prepare it properly. Rehearse your talk mercilessly. Stand before a mirror, talk out loud, record your speech and hear it and rework ruthlessly. Visit the place beforehand and get familiarized with the setup in which you are going to speak. Imagine yourself standing before the crowd and rehearse it a multitude of times. Nothing substantiates preparation.
Hold the element of suspense for a few minutes before you reveal your talk of the day. Whether it be a product presentation or an investor pitch, arouse curiosity among your listeners. Keep them pinned to their seats, looking forward to what is to come. But don't go overboard, for the audience might lose their interest. Keep the teaser short and simple yet interesting.
Portray your pitch from the audience point of view. What do they get by listening to you? What value does your brand or product offer them? Emphasize on the values that are being delivered. In general, make it about them – make it about the audience. For nobody is interested in what you have got to say and are interested only about themselves. So they play the cards accordingly.
Establish eye contact with them. Of course, it is impossible to have individual focus when you speak in public. Have your attention focused towards one segment of people for quite some time and shift it gradually according to the flow of the talk. Individual scanning will lead to scattered attention and divided focus. Also, ignore the audience reaction while speaking – some may sigh, some may yarn, some may nod. Ignore it and shift your focus gradually.
No matter how well prepared you are, things may not turn out as expected. Hence, be mentally prepared for the worst. Be comfortable being uncomfortable and you can nail your speech halfway right there. In the end, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
So, what's your story?