By Moxx de Vera, Professional Host and Speaking Coach
Standing in front of people, in a crowd of a dozen to as big as stadium can be totally nerve wracking and 7 out of 10 people will say that it is not their thing. Not everyone was born to speak in public and definitely not everyone was bred to do this professionally.
Public speaking is a skill developed over achievements, failures and a variety of experience. While others just see someone speaking in front to deliver a message, the speaker finds it a whole lot different on the other side. Preparation, confidence and the ability to connect will always be key to say what is needed to be said in the best possible manner.
I have been a professional speaker as a live event host for 7 years now. I started as a radio jock and have gone over a wide variety of experience in different types of media. I grew into this role not having been able to learn this formally because there’s not much avenue to explore it with. There is no formal schooling for this skill. In the last 2 years, I realized that there’s a need to inform and educate the younger generation on how to do this. Gone were the days where everything was read in books and individuals would sit, listen and learn about something. Everything is online, on video, on blogs. So this is my attempt to reach that market, to educate and teach this as quick and as thorough as possible.
Main questions raised on starting to learn public speaking is, of course “how?”
To give you an idea on “how to,” this means you’re highly interested but have no clue, and that’s why you are reading this. Don’t worry, I am going to share with you some simple trade secrets that you are surely just ashamed to ask because you don’t want people to know you have no clue and you don’t know who to actually – ask.
- How do you prepare for public speaking?
Preparation is a very underrated method to succeed. This is the practice of the best and the most famous people and the newbies can’t wait to get from point A to C and forget to pass point B. Preparation can mean a whole planet of things: getting enough sleep, reading and researching for your topic, picking the right clothes, mapping out your notes, and more. Getting ahead a few days before will also do a lot for you.
Confidence starts by being self-assured. If you know what you’re going to say, what to answer, how to look and do things before people even think it, you are on your way to the top, actually doing those successfully means you have achieved it. Lawyers don’t come into a courtroom without a strategy, a game plan and a retort to every counter-defense the opposing team may have on them. Boxers prepare physically and mentally before every fight. They try to simulate the opponents condition, fight pattern and strategy and make sure to be better than their opponent with every strand of their being. With this, you have nothing more to fear.
So how do you prepare for a specific engagement? You go through your objectives and think of how you can tie them together with your goals. If it’s a speech, you can create a script, practice in front of a mirror. For key note speaking, rehearse your slides and prepare notes on an index card. If it’s hosting an event, research about who you’re doing it for, get to know the people involved, the crowd. If it’s a presentation, flip over your material back and forth and ask someone to listen to you if you can get the message across.
- How do you avoid nervousness and tension?
The body and brain works together to make a fine-tuned machine work. You think and your brain does. Nervousness is caused by lack of confidence because you lack preparation. This causes chemical reactions to your body which causes you to breathe lightly, causing your muscles to tense up, sweat builds up, your heart pounds and realizing that your body has reacted like this makes you even more nervous knowing you are already nervous.
You must know that muscles need blood to maintain vigor. Healthy blood needs oxygen and oxygen comes from relaxed deep breaths. Do this and your whole body and mind reacts positively. You’ll think more clear and you’ll be more confident.
- How do you connect to your audience?
In sales, they will have to teach you a few things to succeed. Profiling, probing and finding the common ground are few of the things a powerful salesman are good at.
Profiling – knowing your audience increases your chances to connect to them. Be relatable, be empathetic. It is rare that you’ll speak in front of a random crowd so just in case you don’t know your DEMOGRAPHICS, SOCIAL CLASS and their influences. For example, age groups between 18-21 are most likely college students. They definitely have shorter attention than adults so you have to be quick, entertaining and insightful in the first 5 minutes. Social class C-D won’t be able to relate to luxurious and glamorous ideas. A group of doctors will not have time listen to non-medical talks.
Probing – this simply means asking the right questions and zoning in to get to your goal and using the information you gathered to make your ideas stronger. Free speech also enables you to engage your audience and connect it to your point making it more impressive.
Common ground – is simply making the audience think you are one with them. That you can relate to their interests or what they do. For example, if you’re speech is about Public Clean-up Initiatives, you ask questions about what makes the audience feel uneasy when they are outside. What can make them act, what incentives? Even if they don’t answer verbally, they have something in mind which will make them itch to respond, then you’ve done your job.
Body Language – there are a lot to throw around on this topic so I’ll leave you to research on this (reading is good practice for public speaking) but best ones I teach in my workshops are:
- Point your toes towards the person you are talking to
- Avoid crossing (or any of your) arms from your body
- Never point a finger, use open palm
- Eye contact and smiling
- Big movements mean tension
- Avoid touching your face (this implicates lying or tension)
This last bit may not have been pointed out earlier but here are also some topics to avoid, and I strictly go by this because this will definitely cause reactions you would not want. Stay clear of topics touching on RELIGION, POLITICS, RACE, and SEXUAL ORIENTATIONS and other taboo topics that you can come up with. Again, it’s best to research on what may offend particular groups.
- How do you improve Public Speaking?
Organize your thoughts, topics and your message. Coming up with a game plan and a digestible flow of ideas will make your audience understand you more. Jumping from one topic to something not related will trigger your audience to change mind-set, and then you’ll have to gain momentum. Be concise with your ideas and stop beating around the bush. Start with an impactful statement and end with an impactful question/challenge to keep their thoughts on your topic.
Speaking isn’t all about charisma and your material. If you have poor diction, everything else will not be attractive. If you speak softly, people will fall asleep or become restless. If you talk slow or too fast, it causes them to loose attention. Speaking clearly, enunciating, articulating, emphasis, proper volume and tone all play a dynamic role in winning a crowd. Being an English-speaking country, we have the capacity to connect and impress on a certain level of expectation. Being able to speak the universal language gives you an edge, being able to speak it on an advanced level impresses a lot of people. Couple this with awesomely prepared and rehearsed material and you are golden. Imagine a stand up comedian who’s got bad diction, may it be your local dialect or language, if it’s not clear, your audience will not laugh.
These are just a few of the best elaborate tips. If you want to learn more public speaking or live event hosting, I offer a workshop that can help you become your best self.
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Visit my website www.moxxthehost.com for more information about me and I’ll see you around!