Have you ever been in a situation wherein you were tasked to write a speech and present it to several people? Or have you been put into a spotlight, and you feel that the world is watching you, documenting every move, every word you speak? Have you ever thought about the impression you will leave after your speech?
Fear of speaking in public is a very natural occurrence. There are instances in which childhood trauma affects this. Usually, speeches are what give everyone a very first impression of you, whether you are confident or not. In school, speeches are what personally gave me trembling feet as I know that I will be marked for who I am for the duration of my stay.
During my Senior High School, I transferred schools and have been introduced to a different environment than what I was used to. As I met new people, it was an avenue for me to learn a lot from them and to make a new first impression. It was when I met a good instructor who helped me with how to take whatever my brain has into speaking. In this writing, I would like to talk about how one would speak comfortably in front of people without fear.
When people say “the change starts with you” I took that literally. In my speeches back in the university or when people put me on the spot, I always try to look my best. Dressing nice doesn’t mean one should wear corporate attire, suits, ties and all. I make sure that I can move freely, and my outfit is something that I’ve already tried before for familiarity. It takes out the question if my tie looks weird or if there’s a rock on my shoe etc.
In an article posted by Ali Bajwa in the Tech Bullion, clothing presents its own power in speeches. It gives the speaker confidence as it sets the tone for your speech. As your outfit covers most of your body, it is what the audience see at first degree. It is also a major factor to set impressions as it shows meticulousness to something seemingly important such as one’s values and identity.
While you already have a good outfit to wear, it is a very good habit to practice your material. One doesn’t necessarily have to practice only if a scheduled talk is approaching. I usually talk to myself about what I do during my everyday task as if I am in a lecture in a big classroom. It will feel as if I sound as smart as I am thinking. So, when I speak during interviews or when someone asks me a question, thinking comes naturally as if nothing is holding me back.
Recently I have been getting multiple comments regarding my speaking voice. In this writing, I would like to discuss something that is regarding my speaking voice. One important factor is that one has to be in a state of relaxation. There are numerous sources online which provide an exercise to find one’s natural speaking voice. You would let out a natural hum that is not relatively low or relatively high. You would want to say some phrases while maintaining that tone and you just sort of play with the tones a bit as if you are speaking. What I would do is I would inhale and let out a natural sigh and kind of go along with it.
In public speaking, it is best to be prepared. It is very nice to talk about subjects with which you are very familiar. Here’s a scenario: you are in a talk in which the subject is cooking. It is very entertaining if the speaker knows how to improvise as they know what they are doing rather than someone who is only following the memorized script that was prepared ages ago. It is as if you feel the “essence of the talk”.
A lot of people may say that they don’t like speaking in front of people, maybe because they may be shy, introverted, or maybe they are not comfortable speaking in a different language. In the case of Filipinos, as multilingually diverse people, we often speak one language rather than the other as we are comfortable, or it is something we grew up with. The fear or embarrassment of having a different accent has this scare of being laughed at or criticized.
When I make mistakes, I own them as a part of my speech. It is nothing rare as people usually make mistakes; people are not perfect. There is no “correct accent” in speeches as the accents in our world are very diverse; you have nothing to prove to the people who say otherwise.
My general advice, when you get the speaking part down, I would advice to move. Movements in public speeches doesn’t have to be grand, it can be simple hand gestures that compliment you points. A good speech doesn’t have to be memorized. As I have said, the essence of the speech is how you deliver it, you must know what you are talking about. Aside from hand gestures, moving to different parts of the stage also works as if you are moving from one point to another. Slight pauses for dramatic effect may give entertainment value as well. It’s these kinds of changes are that make a speech worth listening to.
In speeches, visual aid is a tool to help the audience keep track of what you are talking about. Although it is not necessary, it is helpful. There is tons of material on the internet on how to make a good PowerPoint presentation. Personally, a good PowerPoint presentation is not full of texts which divert the audience’s attention, but it’s those who help you write a story.
Communication has been a very useful tool in areas such as education, business, and in very small interactions such as talking with friends, families, etc. The message people deliver may have an impact on how people would feel. The more you interact with your audience will give you a feel for what they like or do not like. How would you feel if your message is well received? It is a confidence booster that you can talk to people and them like what you are saying. Speakers may feel charismatic, humbled, and connected with their audience as if they are part of something.
Communication can be developed through interaction with people. We learn from other people as we meet them, we connect more by interacting with them. Improving communication skills doesn’t limit itself to public speaking. It can be improved by other means such as playing games with your friends, casual conversations with peers, talking of interests, storytelling, or even trying to fool around with your peers. In business or in schools, confidence aside, speaking styles can be learned and consulted with superiors if one doesn’t take it personally. One thing one must remember, growth is the only thing that matters if one wishes to improve.
Feedback doesn’t necessarily have to be direct as you are consulting with your seniors or peers. It is sometimes achieved through the reactions of your audience. Minute details such as body language, facial expressions, and such give you information for what you want to do in your next interaction with them. For example, some people like your speeches to be short and concise, some people may like them long and detailed, some want them to be casual etc. The more you communicate with people will better equip you subconsciously regarding your speaking style and content for your next interaction.
Speeches, or talking in general is a daily activity. It is something that one does every day and it is something that is nothing to be afraid of. Dress well, talk to different kinds of people, own your mistakes and you will be someone nice to listen to.
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