Speaking in public is genuinely scary for most people, including many who outwardly seem calm. But one forgets that the audience actually wants you to succeed. They are glad it’s you up there and not them. So “Don’t try to get rid of the butterflies – just get them flying in formation”
Public speaking skills are important in various aspects of a business. Be it in marketing and sales, training, coaching and so on. Succeeding in portraying confidence and capability to stand up in front of an audience and speak well, are extremely helpful. Try these tips to project confidence and shake your nerves
- Preparation Public speaking is like an iceberg the delivery is just the tip, the major chunk is the time and effort in planning and preparing for it. Preparing helps you anticipate possible questions and eliminate sources of unnecessary confusion.
- Practice makes you confident, comfortable and compelling. Practicing in front of friends or videotaping yourself will help you tweak your mistakes or shortcomings. Memorizing the speech though always not possible helps real-time additions without losing track of the core material. Practice is only productive when you make a positive effort to improve.
- Audience Analysis Knowing the audience before creating your message helps determine the choice of words, the information, the presenting pattern, questions and reactions. Find out what the audience already knows and what they expect of you and how you want them to react to your presentation. This will reduce your jitters and give you an upper hand over the audience.
- Repeat The human memory and attention span are more than a little flawed and usually, people take home around six things from your presentation. Find out what those six things should be and keep making the point again and again in different ways so that it gets fixated in the minds of the easily distracted audience.
- Keep your material ready Have cue cards ready with key points written on them to get you back on track just in case you lose the flow. Never read word for word from your material.
- Look for signs from the audience Make it interactive and interesting. Guage their verbal and non-verbal feedback. The audience usually mirrors your behaviour.
- Entertain Public Speaking is about entertaining as well as conveying information. People retain more if they are enjoying themselves and feeling relaxed. Your research, humor and imagination will take you places as far as the audiences’ response goes. Try using props to make it more lively and interactive for the audience.
- Gestures Research suggests, what you say is not as important as how you say it.Use your body language, posture, eye contact, smile, your tone, the pitch to doubly engage your audience by not only listening but also looking at the way you are presenting the matter. Well practiced, natural looking gesturing also deviates your nerves to an energy consuming activity so the nerves are not as much perceived by the audience as you might feel them.
- First impression is the Last Impression The audience has to be intrigued and impressed from the word go. Start with a quote, a rhetoric question for emphasis, statistics or better still a story, if very confident, even a joke might work.
- Calm your nerves Try talking to someone before you start to make sure your voice is good to go. Check your equipment to avoid last moment nervousness. Smile, take a deep breath, appear confident. Start by looking at the friendliest person in the audience then work your way through the crowd
Nobody expects you to be perfect. But by following these tips you may be able to reduce your anxiety and shine as a public speaker.
22nd March, 2018
Communication works for those who work at it. Thus said John Powell.
Just because we have been talking all our lives does not mean we have good communication skills. It takes a conscious effort on the part of an individual to develop the ability to communicate. In the world of business with increased sophistication, it is imperative that people at all levels develop effective skills for communication
Our day to day business communication is an amalgamation of email and text messaging interspersed with face to face communication.
Let us acquaint ourselves with each skill
Verbal Communication Skills
- Saying the right thing at the right time is the most important point
- Be friendly and approachable. Be loud and clear while talking. Keep the audience engaged by interaction
- Know your audience, use words familiar to them. Do not hesitate or fumble making them lose confidence in you
- The audience has loads of things on their minds, their mortgages, their assignments, family issues because of which the attention span is limited. Know what are the most important points you want them to retain and take with them. Reiterate the key points. Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them what you have to tell them, tell them what you told them. Make sure, the speaker and the listener are on the same page by summarising and asking for feedback
- Do not lose focus of the topic of discussion. Do not let your train of thought derail. Be precise and to the point.
Non-Verbal Communication Skills
- It enhances the expression of the message. Statistics quote that the non-verbal component constitutes 93% of the communication, wherein 38% constitutes the vocal element, your volume, pitch, tone, how you sound. 55% is the non-verbal elements, the facial expressions, the body language, the gestures, the posture and so on. Only 7% is conveyed through the words. Though the weight of the different elements depends on the situation and the individuals involved, HOW we say is more important than WHAT we say.
- Making eye contact is very important when interacting with someone, it signifies the gravity of the statement.
- You also need to appear confident by maintaining the correct posture. People would be more keen on listening if you stand straight appear balanced and relaxed rather than when you slouch and appear bored.
- A smile opens communication doors.
- The tone of voice conveys a wealth of information from enthusiasm to disinterest
- Communication is not only about talking and presenting your ideas but also about listening and comprehending
- Giving undivided attention to the speaker without being distracted by external stimuli or internal thought process; thus listening without distortion and incorporating the views in the communication
- Listening shows that you have an open mind, respect and accept others’ opinions resulting in an active collaboration
- Acknowledging, summarizing and paraphrasing by the listener promotes two-way communication
- Asking questions affirms your engagement in a conversation and asserts clarity
- More often than not, we are preparing our own dialog while listening to someone which results in distortion of the message received
- Written communication must be as clear and concise as possible. Long enough to cover all the important points and short enough to qualify as business communication
- Avoid ambiguity
- Review the writing before sending. A grammar check and spell check would be advisable
- Make sure to involve only the relevant people while addressing written communication
- Follow up to ensure that the person on the other end has understood and is able to undertake the task
Follow these pointers and be a better communicator.