Being able to speak in public isn’t only about changing the world. It can be about making your point heard and noticed, being respected and acknowledged.
Dale Carnegie wrote in 1926 the book “How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking” about the subject where he shares many great tips on how to become a better speaker.
It was my companion when I was learning to speak in front of crowds and is still in my back pocket just in case.
10 years ago speaking in front of a crowd was almost the most frightening thing you could ask me to do. I was terrified.
Not because I was afraid of the people (I usually knew the people I was asked to address) but I got stage fright. I didn’t know what to say, how to say it, how to keep people interested or how to end the speech.
The last point was almost the worst. I could talk and talk, but when it came to ending the speech I never knew how to rap it up in a manner to make my audience realize it was over.
One day when speaking to a friend about my troubles he told me about Dale’s book and how it had helped him.
I decided to try it out and purchased it the following week.
I read it cover to cover, writing down every important point in a notebook. I went through my notes and re-read the book with them at my side.
I know felt prepared, 3 weeks later I was to hold a speech in front of the sales staff at my job.
Being nervous I knew that good preparation would make a difference so I spent hours and hours writing, rehearsing, rewriting my speech and when the day came I felt calm and prepared.
I walked up on stage with an air of confidence and took my spot mid stage.
Then the horrible happened. I didn’t know what to say, I froze, I started to panic, I wasn’t prepared. I could never do this.
I just stood there for about 2 minutes before I started to remember my opening part and I started.
The more I spoke the better it went and by the time I was finished it felt like I had just spoken for a few minutes (when it really was closer to half an hour) and I actually got an applause (not a big one, but it was my first ever).
Since then I have improved more and more and today have no problem speaking in front of small or large groups of people.
I wish to share with you 7 tips that I keep with me and that I learned in the book “How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking”.
1. Make sure to prepare
All famous speakers thoroughly prepared their speeches. Writing them down, practising them, rewriting them and making sure that they say what they intend to.
2. Let your passion shine through
The mistake many make when speaking in front of people is that they are afraid to let any of themselves shine through.
You audience doesn’t really care what you are saying, what matters is how you say it. By letting your passion and feelings about the subject shine through you will grasp their attention and keep it.
Don’t be afraid of showing yourself and getting shot down, you will be shot down if you don’t show yourself.
3. Tell stories
Everyone loves stories, everyone wants to know about what others have done before them. If you can tell stories that make your points easier to grasp it will be easier for your audience to remember what you have said and identify with the point you are trying to make.
4. Make sure you are the centre of attention
It is very important not to let anything disturb the focus of your audience. You don’t want anything moving around on stage or in the room, peoples focus gets pulled directly to movement.
Make sure the stage is open so that your audience can see all of you, you don’t want to hide from them.
5. Opening a talk
You talk is one of the most important parts of your talk. This is were you capture the attention of your audience which makes it a lot easier to keep it.
There are many ways to start a speech; You can tell a story, ask a question or make a powerful statement.
What you don’t want to do is start with an apology about your speaking skills. This is all to common and just lowers your credibility and loses you the attention of your listeners at once.
6. Closing a talk
Plan your finishes. You always want to leave a impression and this requires preparation. You do not want to end with “And that is all I have to say about that” (it makes you sound a lot like Forest Gump e.g. Not very smart) but instead finish by highlighting your points and making a call to action.
7. Be distinct
One tip that has been very useful to me is that I need to make sure everyone in the audience understands. Therefore at the beginning of my speeches I look out over the audience and find the person that I think will have the hardest time to understand, it can be a kid or someone who just doesn’t look very bright and I set as a goal that they are to understand everything I say in my speech. Because if they do, everyone else will as well.
There is nothing worse then holding an hour long speech and realising no one has understood any of your key points.
Being a good public speaker can change your life. It will open doors for you that you never believed you had access to and what is best, it is a skill you can learn and will learn, if you practice.
If you really want to become a good public speaker I advise you to, just like I did, read Dale Carnagie’s book “How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking”. You can Buy it Here.