Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Great Tips on Public Speaking

The mere mention of Public Speaking would induce students to have the following symptoms : butterflies in the stomach, sweat rivuleting down their backs, frequent visits to the restroom and some even resort to messy gut puking scenes. Oh well, maybe I'm exaggerating a wee bit but from my observation, majority of Malaysian students have inhibition when it comes to public speaking. They might garner strings of As and various accolades but that does not automatically guarantee that one can speak nonchalantly in public.

I would like to share some great tips on how to give a good speech, e-mailed to me by Jamilah Samian, a Certified Professional Trainer (CPT) who is also a sucessful author. If her name kinda rings a bell, perhaps you might have came across her books: COOL MUM SUPER DAD, IBU KOOL BAPA HEBAT, COOL BOYS SUPER SONS and ANAK LELAKI KOOL & HEBAT. Thank you Kak Milah for imparting your knowledge and expertise to me. I hope these tips would benefit the rest of the readers as it has greatly benefited me.

1) The key to give a good presentation is preparation. Find out who your audience will be and what the purpose of the speech is. Suit the content to your audience.

2) There are several different kinds of speeches e.g. motivational, informative, persuasive and inspirational. The best kind of speeches always motivate and inspire people to change. Begin with the end in mind ... You start by asking yourself: How can I achieve this? How can I inspire people to change? Good speakers always try to make an emotional connection with the audience. By this I mean, you evoke interest in the audience from the moment you take the stage. You can do this by sharing a story, some statistics etc to grab attention. 

3) Remember: IT'S GOOD TO BE NERVOUS BECAUSE IT SHOWS YOU CARE FOR THE AUDIENCE. In fact, someone once said that, If you are not nervous, something is wrong! You might be so relaxed that the speech falls flat. Nervousness is actually a form of energy. Put it to good use in your speech. I often take a deep breath before I start to calm myself down. I also remind myself that, in any presentation, the spotlight is on the audience, not me. I'm there to ensure that transfer of knowledge takes place.   

4) Nothing beats practice. Practice, practice, practice. As you practice, imagine yourself in front of the audience, giving a great speech. This is called 'visual imagery'. Even if you haven't delivered the speech, you can trick your mind to believe that you have done it before (this is supported by research).  

5) The audience doesn't know if you have forgotten some lines. In case you did forget, just act normal and proceed as usual.

6) On rushing - pauses are very important. A dramatic pause at the right moment helps the message to sink in. Remember this if you find yourself going too fast. 

7) I guess the speech is probably less than an hour long. You can't squeeze too many things in an hour-long speech. Decide what your main points are and elaborate on them.

8) A note on jargons. Unless your audience consist of only university professors, stay away from technical terms that can confuse people. A good speech is direct and easy to understand. The best way to engage people is by using simple terms that they can relate to.

9) If you can, try to inject some kind of humor. It helps to spice things up. 

10) Last but not least, the more speeches you give, the better a speaker you become. So don't worry too much :) Enjoy the learning process!