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Basics of Public Speaking

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/24/2006 | Self Improvement

 

Public speaking has been with us since ancient times. Kings, senators, religious preachers and priests were the most prominent classes who had to speak before an audience. In ancient republics, the senators had their points to make, and they had to be sure to get their points across. Kings and religious preachers had an easier task. The audience they were addressing were in awe of them, and hence could easily be convinced. Modern day leaders rouse the people for a cause or in their support.

We listen to political and religious leaders, and we watch newscasters, presenters of TV shows and sports commentators speak. All of them are communicating with us. We are the public they are addressing. We are the audience. And we all have our favourites among them. Sometimes we are in awe of them and love them because they got their points across, made us laugh, prodded us to use our judgements, added something new to our existing knowledge.

All these are nothing new.

But its a whole new ball game when we have to address an audience.

What we should know is that all these people whom we love to hear so much follow some basics. These basics teach you how to understand your audience, make yourself understood and, most importantly, judge yourself in order to better your performance next time.

But what if you are speaking for the first time? Youve spent sleepless nights preparing the speech material. Youve also spent sleepless nights thinking how to face the audience. The D-day comes, and you find your legs shaky and throat dry while you wait for your name to be announced. In other words, you are having stage fright.

Relax.

I remember a story where a first-time amateur actor suffering from stage fright was providentially saved when the actor on stage missed a few lines and dropped the cue for the first-timer to enter.

However, nothing of this sort is going to happen to you. Your name as a speaker will be announced. You will have to walk up to the stage, stand behind the lectern and deliver. You have your career ahead.

Relax.

Relax because you have greeted the audience with a smile. The expectant audience is out there to hear you speak, to learn from you. In fact, they are there to help you out if you ever fall into trouble. As you proceed, you shall feel that. You shall feel that the audience has started understanding you. This means that whatever you wanted to be communicated is being communicated. There maybe a few hiccups. Dont bother. Remember that the audience is busy learning from you and so, are serious. They might be enjoying your presentation. In either case, they simply wont bother to notice your hiccups. They are more interested in your positive aspects. Consider these small stumbles as minor events, ignore them, and lo! youll find that the audience has chosen to ignore them. Take my word, you wouldnt find a single face in the audience that would betray a hidden chuckle.

Your back isnt turned to the audience and they are with you.

Your speech finished, youve taken your seat and youll hear the applause still ringing in your ears.

Relax.

Back home, think of the great day youve had.  Now that youre richer by your experiences, consider too how to improve next time. You yourself can be your own teacher, that is, you have to be able to judge yourself critically and naturally. Youve to feel confident about all the right things you did as well as learn from your mistakes.

Hungry for your next speech?