How to Become a Good Speaker
Public speaking comes naturally and effortlessly to the lucky few. Teachers, lecturers and orators are accustomed to speaking in front of, and holding the attention of, an audience. But if public speaking is not a part of your regular life, the mere thought of it may send shivers down the spine. Whether you’re the reluctant best man at a wedding or have been forced to give a presentation at work, here are our top tips for making the event a less daunting and – why not? – even enjoyable experience.
Jot down the main points of your speech. Will you need to introduce yourself? What will be your first few sentences? Decide whether you will opt for a formal, informal or even humorous tone. You can then create a framework around which you can plan your talk. Keeping this in mind while speaking will help you sound confident, allowing you to present your case in an intelligible and informed manner.
Stage fright is an unlikely but real possibility that can strike out of the blue if you’re prone to jitters. Fortunately, a well-rehearsed speech will help prevent this. Once you’ve listed your main points, you may choose to write out the whole thing from your opening line to your concluding sentence. Read this through a few times – you can even commit it to memory or keep a copy with you to refer to if you get stuck.
First impressions matter. Before you even open your mouth, your audience will have already formed an impression of you based on your appearance. Dress shoddily, and your audience will be lost before the first syllable has escaped your lips. So dressing carefully is important. Research also shows that, if you’re happy with what you’re wearing, you will feel more confident about your ability to perform.
Practise Your Voice Projection
Take into consideration the size of your audience. Are you being asked to speak in front of a small class? Will you be speaking in a cavernous hall? Will there be people seated at the back or sides who might find it difficult to hear you?
All these scenarios require different levels of voice control – hence the importance of practising voice projection. Visiting the venue beforehand will help give you a clearer idea of how far you will need to “throw” your voice, especially if you won’t have access to a microphone. You may even practise your speech on location. Remember, though, that the sound quality will change depending on how full the venue is, and you may be required to raise your voice further on the day.
Have a Joke Ready
You’ve dressed appropriately, drafted and rehearsed your speech, and practised your voice projection. You’ve visited the venue, practised on location and checked the sound quality. But sometimes even the best plans go awry. Don’t worry if, despite all your preparations, you do trip over a few words or lose track of what you were saying. Everyone is human and prone to mistakes. A useful way of glossing over the incident is by having a joke ready – this will divert the audience’s attention from the error and enable you to move on seamlessly.