Haris Ahmed of Chicago on Public Speaking Newbies
Haris Ahmed of Chicago has encountered a lot of people who fear public speaking more than they fear death. It’s true! About 74% of Americans are terrified of public speaking. This doesn’t bode well for beginners who have to speak publicly. At some point in our lives, we all have to address a group of people one way or another. What’s the good news for beginners when it comes to become great public speakers?
It turns out that public speaking actually boils down to a learnable set of skills. Most people improve rapidly within just hours of actually getting started. The best way to accelerate this learning process is to study and practice the most effective yet simple public speaking tips, tricks and strategies. Read on to find out where to start on your public speaking journey!
Build on your strengths.Playing to your strengths means you need to have a heart to heart with yourself about your speaking and your presenting styles. In other words, don’t try to have a solemn lecture if you’re itching to crack a joke, or if you’re definitely not the standup comedian type, you might want to find other ways to add humor and capture peoples’ attention. Knowing what type of people make up your audience can also help in determining what strength to highlight.
Practice with people you’re comfortable with.As an absolute beginner, stepping out in front of a huge audience of people you don’t know can be overwhelming. Rather, start by giving short practice presentations in front of coworkers, friends, and even family members; people you really feel comfortable with. If you have someone in your network who’s a great public speaker, invite them to your practice presentations and ask for tips, suggestions and corrective feedback. Another great tip is to practice in front of a mirror.
Expect the unexpected.No matter how well you have things planned, problems can still arise. Take a moment to list your worst “unexpected things” fears. Afterwards, write out a quick action plan for what you’d do in case any of these situations actually happen. Few issues will cause audience unhappiness and disengagement more than a speaker who loses their cool or technical control in the middle of a speech or presentation—especially if the projector fails or the laptop freezes.
Don’t forget to breathe.If you start talking right away, it’s likely you’ll talk too fast or trip over some words. It’s good to take a deep breath at the beginning and take a moment to become comfortable in your surroundings. Don’t worry about pausing for too long before saying anything, because your audience will definitely wait. When the right moment arrives to start your speech, you’ll know it and your audience will start really tuning in. That’s when it’s time to make your critical first impression, by sharing a carefully crafted story or asking one or two deeply thought provoking questions that you know your audience can’t wait to hear the answers to.