Public speaking is one of the most important skills that you can have. It’s also one of the greatest fears that many suffer from. However, there is much that you can do to improve your ability to speak before small and large audiences. Being better prepared, which will reduce your anxiety, will help you in various aspects of your life. These benefits can range from now being able to speak to a group of youngsters about fire safety to helping adults engage in investing and wealth building.
Public Speaking Focuses
It’s important to learn the ways that public speaking is important. One is that it’s a valuable way that you can inform others. Note that convincing people of something is not important if your focus is simply on informing. You just want to get the information out there and allow them to come to their own conclusions. The more demanding forms of public speaking involve you convincing them of something or motivating them. It’s at that point that preparing for the emotional aspect of your speech becomes important as well.
Perhaps you want to describe the local real estate market to a group of students at a community college. In that case, your focus would just be on informing them. Conversely, if you’re looking to convince someone to engage in a specific type of passive investing, that’s when you’d want to motivate or convince them to do what you’d like them to do. Informing will, of course, be part of that, but there’s going to be a lot more to the process than if you were just informing them.
The best thing that you can do prior to engaging in any form of public speaking is preparing for the experience. A nice side benefit that will directly impact the level of confidence that you have when you’re in the act of speaking is that being well prepared tends to decrease anxiety levels. Preparing should be done in a general sense, which is what you’re doing by reading this, and it should also be done specifically related to a particular speech.
In regards of the latter point, make sure to thoroughly research what you’ll be talking about. Do this even if you know the topic well. If you’ll be speaking about something that you feel that you have expert knowledge of, you don’t need to do as much research, but you should still touch up on the information. In many instances, you’d be surprised at how much of what you had assumed to be true actually isn’t. You also want to see if there’s any new information that you had missed.
Journalists quickly learn how important the first few sentences of an article are. The initial moments of a speech are just as important. You want to grab the audience’s attention. This can be done with a related story, a statistic that would surprise most in the audience or a question that you want them to think about over the next few minutes. You want to establish your credibility and state your purpose in the early moments as well, but getting their attention is of utmost importance.
Note that most recommend that you write your introduction after you’ve finished the bulk of the speech. This is not as necessary when you’re already knowledgeable about the topic or you’ve started to be able to initially formulate much of your speeches in your head beforehand, but in those cases, you’re going to still want to carefully review your introduction later and be ready to make changes to it.
Establish and Satisfy the Need
Unless you’re solely focused on informing your audience, you should establish a problem that must be solved. The status quo is not working. We’re destroying our rainforests. This needs to change. This is why this needs to change and why you should care. That naturally translates into satisfying that need. Here’s what we can do to solve it. Make sure that you provide facts whenever possible throughout these parts of your speech.
Next is providing imagery for what the future will look like is nothing is done versus its appearance if that need is satisfied. It helps to be as vivid as possible when telling these stories. This is partially where being emotional comes into play. Be passionate and determined when you’re discussing this need and about what these differing types of futures will look like.
Even if your focus is on informing those you’re speaking to, emotionality can come into play as well. For example, if you’re telling your audience about what happened to the dinosaurs, you could incorporate stories about dinosaurs that lived then or otherwise tug on their heartstrings.
The conclusion of your speech is important as that is what will generally linger in the minds of those there. You want to briefly summarize the main points of your speech at this time, but you want to do so in a manner that involves you paraphrasing your points, not simply repeating them. You may also want to include a short story or a memorable quote to help you end on a solid note.
Know Your Audience
Part of the preparation process includes being prepared for your audience and tailoring your speech to that audience. In most cases, you should have a general idea of what to expect audience-wise, from the size of it to, more importantly, who they are. For example, speaking to those who are recipients of generational wealth is going to necessitate a different focus than an audience filled with people who are looking to engage in investing in order to build wealth. Also, educating kindergarteners about dinosaurs will require a different focus than doing the same with adult students.
Be Prepared to Ad-Lib and Go With the Flow
It’s best in most cases to not expect to deliver your speech word for word. You want to have general ideas in mind and then expand on those. Thoroughly research for your speech, but you don’t need to write a word-for-word speech and stick to that exact script. You also want to respond to the audience, read the audience, as you go along. That may be a skill that you should focus on later if you’re new to public speaking, but it is something that you should focus on sooner rather than later.
As you gain public-speaking experience, you’ll improve your ability to respond to both positive and negative body language and audible responses. This can even mean going completely off-script at times. Also take into account that doing thorough research in preparation for your speech allows you to more easily ad-lib.
Visualize and Practice
Practice your speech multiple times. You’ll be working towards a powerful presentation and will increasingly get a better idea of how to word certain parts of it. As you practice, visualize the setting as best as possible. If you can actually rehearse in the same facility that you’ll be delivering the speech, that’s even better. If not, visualize the experience as best as you can, including what the audience will likely look like and how its members will likely respond.
As far as your overall speech-giving skills go, continue giving speeches. Toastmasters is an organization that is one of the best at presenting speech-giving opportunities to people who want to improve. You could also ask to speak more often at work and in other types of situations in your life. Volunteering your time often presents numerous public-speaking opportunities as well.
Why Is Public Speaking Important?
Public speaking provides numerous life benefits. Those who become more experienced at it tend to experience a greater level of self-confidence and more comfortableness when interacting with others in all types of settings. Being more versed in public speaking will also allow you to make a greater difference in life. Anything that you can do to influence others’ thoughts is powerful, and public speaking has been shown to be amongst the most powerful things that any of us engage in.
Public speaking also provides you with tremendous learning opportunities. If you’re researching the local real estate market for a speech to give those engaged in passive investing, you’re also going to be teaching yourself a lot about wealth building in the process. And when you’re looking through information about generational wealth and how to keep that wealth transitioning through the generations for some time to come, you’ll learn a lot about that topic that you can also bring to discussions and interactions with people.
As with anything in life, taking the time to prepare for what you’re about to do will exponentially increase your ability to succeed at that task and decrease how much related stress you may experience from it. Public speaking is no different. Get out there. Give speeches. Be thoroughly prepared for them. Get comfortable going with the flow while giving them. Help people. Grow.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.