Many introverts reading this would be jumping up and down after seeing the title(out of joy I mean). Public speaking is not something that is natural to everyone. Especially for people who spent most of their early years not that social, therefore not developing the people skills and getting over the fear of talking before a lot of people. A term that we use to describe people with this personality is “introverts”.
Believe it or not, I was an introvert for the most part of my life. Only recently did I work my way into becoming more of an extrovert. In fact, my college mates and college friends could testify of my transformation right from freshman year up until senior year. So even though people who’ve known me recently think I was never that uncomfortable with talking and interacting with people, I do have a long history of being that socially awkward guy in a group.
In this post I’m going to be giving you few primary pointers that will get an introvert from being afraid of public speaking, to acing it.
Let Go of the Result
As human beings, we are so obsessed with what the result of a matter might be. What if I forget what I have to say? What if people don’t listen? What if just go there and look like an idiot? What if people laugh at me? The girl I have a crush on might dislike me because of that.
Let me tell you the truth of the matter my friend. Everything that you’ve asked above has a possibility of actually happening. But here is the thing, you cannot do anything about. All you can do is improve your speech so that you get the people’s attention, and maybe even impress that girl.
Since you cannot control how people react to you, you needn’t and shouldn’t care what people think of you. Some people might not find the topic you’re talking on valuable, and others might simply not be in your level of communication. And yeah, there might be some people who do genuinely hate you, and therefore not want to hear what you have to say. At the end of the day, you cannot please everybody. So stop trying to.
Add Value to Your Audience
Just because you don’t care how people perceive you, you shouldn’t be the guy who speaks about bodybuilding to a female-only audience. Most women won’t give a damn about bodybuilding.
The best way to get the attention of your audience is to know what they want and what they need(most of the time they are not the same). When you gear your speech in such a way so that people find value in what you are saying, there is a high chance they would listen to you.
People respond much better to a talk which ACTUALLY gives them value, than a talk that has perfect flow and grammar.
Prepare a Draft
I cannot stress the importance of this step enough, because up till this day preparing a draft has helped me give a better speech than when I didn’t make one. Yeah, your speech will seem more spontaneous if you don’t have it premeditated, but you will more likely lack clarity in what you say, and end up deviating from the topic at hand.
A draft comes in handy here cause it gives you an overview of what you are about to say with a sequence, so that you don’t end up forgetting what you can say next.
But yeah, you shouldn’t prepare a script which you just read out of. It should just contain the main points and keywords that you can use to improvise during the actual talk.
You’ve seen people take their notes or a small postcard that contains the draft that they’ve prepared, to the stage. There is certainly nothing wrong with doing it if you are very new to public speaking. But within a couple of times, you should get into the habit of eliminating it.
Nothing kills attention more than a speaker who looks down at his notes right in the middle of making a point. Everyone knows that it is premeditated and you end up seeming ingenuine. When you are usually saying something from your heart, you wouldn’t need any notes to remind you what to say.
For that reason, you should get into the habit of memorizing your draft so that you seem genuine to the eyes of the listener. This skill takes practice, as not everyone will be able to memorize stuff easily. In fact in my early days with public speaking, I used to spend an entire week memorizing and rehearsing a 30-minute speech. Now I do it in minutes.
Give Attention to Eye Contact, Body Language and Social Cues
This is certainly not just the icing on the cake, but also the creamy part of the cake that makes people want to eat more of it. There have been numerous studies that prove that about 80% of the response to your speech is dependent on your eye contact with the audience, your body language, and the tonality of your voice. Only 20% of the response is based on the actual content that you speak.
This tells me that people do “judge a book by its cover”. So the advice is, make sure you have a great cover. Of course, I’m not just talking about the clothes you wear, but also the behavior you exhibit.
You need to look the audience in the eye while talking, and have an open body posture in order to exhibit confidence, which every person likes in a speaker. There is, of course, a thin line between being confident and being creepy, so make sure you don’t overdo it.
At the end of the day, public speaking isn’t that hard. You just have to learn some skills just like you would learn any other skill. Some of us have to make an effort to learn them, while some others get it in an earlier stage of life.
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Until later, Peace!