Is speaking in front of a large crowd your worst nightmare?
Does stage fright leave you tongue-tied?
Do you go blank at the sight of a microphone?
Take heart, to quote Michael Jackson's song, you are not alone. Half the world, I suppose shudders at the mere thought of speaking in public.
The other half, in my imagination, is dominated by all the consuming fear of a visit to the dentist for a root canal.
No prizes for guessing which half you would rather belong to.
If you are inclined to believe that public speaking is confined only to the social and corporate world, brace yourself for the truth.
A mother giving her point of view at a school meeting, a father raising a toast at his daughter's wedding and a teenager paying tribute to his parents at their silver wedding anniversary are, but a few, examples of situations that call for public speaking.
So, drop you 'locked jaw' and get your vocal chords going with some useful tips.
- Draft craft: A good speech is drafted in three parts. An impressive beginning, an interesting middle and a powerful conclusion.
- Know your subject: Conviction is contagious. Once you are convinced about your subject, words will flow and you are bound to captivate your audience.
- Feel comfortable: If large numbers intimidate you, your audience can tell from your body language. Try this simple mental trick. Imagine you are in your sitting room talking with your family members. You will notice your nervousness disappearing and your audience beginning to connect with you.
- First impression is the last impression: Begin your speech with an interesting story, a quote or some power-packed words that will catch the attention of your audience. Remember, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.
- Length 'wise': I once read an anecdote about a speaker who went on speaking endlessly. After his speech, he reached out to a man in the front row and asked; "How was my speech?" The man replied, "Very refreshing! I felt like a new man when I woke up!"
- Do not go into overdrive. It is sure to kill your speech, if not your audience.
- 'Gift' wrap it: Wrap up your speech like you would, a gift. With a special touch. Use punch lines, rhetoric, or even humuor to create a lasting impression.
- Also, be sincere, be brief and then take your seat.