By Akanksha Thakral
“Rid yourself of this I-am-a-poor-worm-in-the-dust idea. You are a god, with infinite capabilities. All things are ready if the mind be so. The eagle looks the cloudless sun in the face.”
From The Art of Public Speaking
Public Speaking is an art which isn’t mastered in a few days. It takes rigorous practice; events after events and interactions after interactions to reach a point where you aren’t afraid to express yourself. It makes me unhappy when people have spectacular ideas, but fail to express them. Although Public Speaking is an art, it can be mastered by anyone and YOU CAN DO IT TOO.
In Public Speaking, the First Impression is the Last Impression
Imagine that you are attending a public speaking event and there are 30 speakers, each having a time slot of 5-7 minutes. Now, as an audience member you might pay attention to the first 5 to 10 speakers, but then your mind will start distracting you. To draw your attention, a speaker must now start with something that forces your mind to listen to him/her. So, start in an unconventional style and make your audience believe that this is going to be one of the best speeches that they have ever heard and that they can’t afford to miss any point.
The Shortcut to being a Good Public Speaker: Master the Art of Observation
Become a master in the art of observation. Observe the people around you, watch TV shows and movies and try to notice patterns of speech, usage of language, vocabulary, and idiomatic phrases. These observations will not only help you form your thoughts, but will also help you to manage the expectations of the audience.
Who are you speaking to? Know your audience and treat them as naive
Do research on your audience. If you want to connect with them, you should know why your topic is important to them.
Secondly, treat your audience as naïve. In order to avoid getting nervous, you have treat your audience as being inexperienced. Just trick your mind for those 5-7 minutes that you are the only one in the room with all the knowledge and that your audience knows very little. Imagine that you have been assigned a task to explain a particular topic to them. This will eventually calm your nerves for some time and you would be able to present in a much better way.
Strive for improvement, not perfection
I have been in the field of public speaking for more than 10 years and I am not perfect. I still struggle sometimes. When I started taking live Facebook motivational sessions, I couldn’t deliver to the best of my capability.
It took me a few weeks to realize that I wasn’t failing because I was a bad speaker; I was failing because I was out of my comfort zone. I couldn’t interact effectively with someone without seeing their face as I wasn’t used to it. I need to see the expressions of my audience while I am speaking. We all have our own comfort zones, and we should try to work on our weaknesses once we are aware of them. However, we should not overburden ourselves with the word PERFECTION.
The 3 Ps of Good Public Speaking: Practice, Practice and Practice!
No matter how many videos you watch, how many articles you read, and how many techniques you learn, if you aren’t able to put the theories into practice, you will lose. Attend events, take part in competitions, and interact more and more with the people around you. Do whatever it takes to practice all that you have learned and master this art. I believe in you and you should believe in yourself too!
About the Author
Akanksha Thakral is a verbal and soft skills trainer. She is a national level debater and has won in various public speaking events. When she isn’t glued to her work, she likes to spend her time researching on modern furniture, listening to her favourite tracks and planning to buy the next stationary item. She is currently pursuing her M.Com from the University of Delhi and is teaching the verbal section to CAT aspirants. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her group on Facebook, ‘ENGLISH BY AKANKSHA’.