10 Things You Used to Hate About English
Whether it’s for marks at
school or at a seminar for your business, all of us will have to speak in
front of an audience at some time in our lives. Jerry Seinfeld once said
that people's number one fear was public speaking, their second fear was
death. So if you're at a funeral you're better off in the coffin than
giving the eulogy. Through this site we
hope to give you the confidence to overcome your fears and become a self
assured and relaxed public speaker.
Choosing a topic is the first
step to a successful speech. If you are given the freedom to choose your
own topic then it is imperative that you choose a topic that you can feel
enthusiastic about and your audience will be interested in. If you are
afraid of going blank choose a subject you already know about (eg. You or one of your hobbies etc.).
Another clever idea is to choose something you feel strongly about,
your earnestness and conviction will shine through. If you can’t think of
a topic current affairs are always a intelligent choice. Check the latest
newspapers and magazines for articles with topical issues.
Last is first.
Write your conclusion first, your
conclusion should summarize the message you wish to make and reinforce the
main points you plan to formulate. Once you’ve written your conclusion you
can go about writing the rest of your speech, knowing where you’re headed!
Your first and last sentences are the most crucial! Your first sentence
will determine whether the audience will bother listening to the rest of
your speech and your last sentence will determine whether the audience
will take the trouble to remember your speech.
The power of language. Your choice of words can dramatically affect their impact on the audience; they can change a run of the mill speaker into a powerful and motivating speaker.
For example: Change “I think you will agree” to “I a certain you will agree” and “I hope you will agree” to “I am certain you will agree”. Your word processor should have a thesaurus. Use it! This will prevent you from using the same word too many times, change vague words like ‘nice’ into descriptive words, which will make you sound more competent.
“A sleeping audience
remembers little”. Humor if
used correctly is a valuable asset to any talk. Unless you are a stand up
comedian you don’t want to detract from the point you are trying to make
by having them rolling in the aisles, you just want to keep the audience
interested with a light hearted giggle thrown in here and there. Don’t use
jokes just for the sake of it, only if they are appropriate. When you are
presenting the speech make sure you don’t just carry on while people are
laughing, they wont hear you, but at the same time don’t leave obvious
pauses expecting them to laugh, they might not! (Be sure to test your
jokes out beforehand).
The best way to practice
your presentation is to do it in front of an audience (preferably live).
Do it just like you would on the day, using all your tools (pictures,
keycards). Watch your test listeners (snoring is a bad sign) see which
parts lose them. Then
afterwards ask for their opinion, which parts they found interesting,
confusing or memorable. Make sure your audience isn’t afraid to
give you some helpful
criticism and you’re not afraid to take it.
If no live audience is
willing then you are going to have to be your own critic. Stand in front
of a mirror and watch your facial expressions, posture and gestures
carefully. These should all be used to your advantage. Make sure your
expression suits what you are talking about (don’t frown when telling a
joke and don’t grin if you’re talking about the horrors of war!), stand up
straight and still (don’t rock back and forward on your feet) and don’t
fidget with your hands, all of these things can be very distracting to
Another useful idea is to record yourself and then play it back; this will help you hear your pace, voice pitch and audibility.
So the big day has arrived!
Dress the part. If you want to be seen as a well prepared, successful
person you need to look like it. Not only will you appear like that to
everyone else, but the clothes will also give you a sense of
You should know your speech,
pretty well by now, but it is not a good idea to memorize it, you are
there to present your speech not recite it. Don’t read your speech; use
small keycards with key words written on them.
Keep visual illustrations to
a minimum, it is what you say that is important. If you are going to have
a diagram then show it either before or after your presentation, having it
up during your speech will sidetrack your audience.
Be conscience of keeping eye
contact with the audience, if looking at all of them is too overwhelming
then pick two or three with pleasant looking faces in different parts of
the audience and alternate between them, when you grow in self-confidence
add more until you are looking at everyone.
Standing still, not
wandering around, varying your pitch and pace to prevent your voice from
becoming monotonous, making sure you are speaking loud enough for everyone
to hear without sounding like you are shouting and pronouncing your words
clearly will all ensure the audience hears your message, but to make them
believe you need to speak with passion.
After all of this research you should feel pretty confident that you’ve done everything you can and that the whole thing will run smoothly, but if like millions of others out there your problem lies with the audience then my only advise to you is the tried and tested naked audience trick. Go out there take a few moments before starting to close your eyes and imagine that the front row is naked or in their underwear (depending on your inclination). It has a very amusing effect and should put you at ease.