How do you feel when someone speaks confidently and with poise? Do their words affect your opinion of them in a positive way? How about if they are stumbling over themselves, mumbling to the point where it is hard to understand what they are saying. What if it was you who was speaking like this? Would people be able to connect with you on an emotional level or would they look at you as though something is wrong because public speaking is so difficult for you?
Speaking publically is a skill that you can learn, but it takes practice. The first step to speaking confidently and with poise is to realize how anxiety affects your ability to speak clearly when in public or even just on the phone for example. Your heart beats faster and adrenaline rushes through your body; these are normal reactions because we have evolved over time so that our bodies prepare us for any type of confrontation whether physical, mental or social in nature.
Anxiety causes changes within the brain as well- specifically parts linked with speech production which also explains why public speaking makes many people feel tongue tied, unable to get out what they need say before their mind goes blank leaving them feeling defeated. This reaction happens automatically if you do not understand how important confidence is to public speaking.
Learning how to speak is like learning any new skill; it takes time and effort, but with the right techniques you can learn public speaking as well- both in front of a small group or an audience of thousands at a conference. Here are some ways that anxiety affects public speaking and ideas on what you can do about them:
Forgetfulness – After your heart starts beating faster when becoming anxious for example during public speaking, blood flow increases throughout all areas of your body including your brain sending extra oxygen towards this vital organ which makes memory function difficult especially if there is something else on your mind such as fear from being looked down upon because of lack confidence while talking in public. To combat forgetfulness make sure that you are well prepared before speaking. Keep your audience in mind as you write out public speaking material and make sure that it is to the point, brief enough so people will remember what they heard while being interesting at the same time through varying sentence lengths which keeps listeners on their toes not knowing when you might drop a bomb of information or joke that catches them off guard.
Speed – Another side effect from anxiety during public speaking can be increased speed; this happens because we think faster than normal due to adrenaline pumping throughout our body making us feel like we have more energy for example immediately after an intense exercise session such as running several miles without stopping versus if someone were sitting down watching television all day who would probably feel sluggish by comparison even though she had just the same number of hours passed. When we speak quickly, it is difficult for listeners to keep up let alone understand what we are saying and they may begin to tune us out which is the exact opposite reaction that you want when public speaking. This can be combatted by practicing slowing down your speech rate until it feels more comfortable; again, keeping your audience in mind as you do this so that they can follow along without any trouble on their part.
Pauses – Pausing between sentences not only gives speakers a chance to take a breath but also allows people a moment to digest the information that was just shared before continuing onto the next thought or sentence. Pauses can also be used for dramatic effect especially if there is a lull in conversation; this is a great opportunity to take a sip of water, make eye contact with people in the audience and then continue on as if nothing happened. Pauses can also show that you are confident in what you are saying especially if it is something controversial or new information for the listeners.
Stumbling – This happens when we become anxious and our brain stops sending messages to our mouth telling our feet where to place themselves next; this leads to tripping over words, speaking too fast or even mumbling which all make us appear unsure of ourselves. The best way to combat stumbling during public speaking is through practice- both alone in front of a mirror and in front of other people whether they be friends, family members or classmates. Reciting speeches out loud not only helps with your pacing and delivery but can also help you to become more comfortable with the material that you are presenting. If possible, try to memorize your speech as this will help reduce forgetfulness and stumbling.
Facial Expressions – When we are anxious our expressions tend to be tense which in turn makes us look worried or angry when this might not be the case at all. This is why it is important to practice in front of a mirror so that you can get an idea of how you look while speaking; if something feels uncomfortable such as making too much eye contact then back off a little bit until it feels more natural for you. Another thing to keep in mind is that people often read facial expressions subconsciously- even more so than the words which was just spoken so it is important to try and relax facial muscles rather than tensing them up when public speaking.
Voice – A great way for people to get over their fear of public speaking is to practice with a friend; you can read your speech out loud while they act as listeners or vice versa where they are reading aloud in front of an audience and you listen on the side giving feedback afterwards- there are even television shows that do this same concept except using celebrities instead! This not only helps us gain confidence but also gives us idea if we need extra help such as learning how to speak louder, clearer or at a slower pace. Another thing that most public speakers don’t consider during public speaking whether they are public speaking in front of ten people or thousands is their voice. The human ear can interpret sounds that range from 20 to 20,000 hertz which makes it possible for us to understand speech; the average person has a higher pitch when they speak because most females have an average range between 300 and 400 hertz while men tend to be around 100-250 hertz.
Other ways that public speakers try and make sure their voices come out strong include:
Making eye contact with as many listeners as we possibly can so that nobody feels left out during public speaking
Smiling before public speaking if we feel comfortable doing this since smiling tends to put other people at ease even though some may read into this negatively thinking you don’t take public speaking seriously.
Maintaining posture at all times especially with shoulders back and head held high as this helps to project our voice so that it can be heard across a crowd.
Public speaking can be nerve-wracking and terrifying but with the right preparation and public speaking techniques, we can learn to overcome our fears and use public speaking as a way of growing not only ourselves up personally but phese emotions show. This is why practicing the techniques above such as confidence building exercises before public speaking along with positive affirmation is important for self-confidence! Another thing people tend to forget during public speaking but which makes a world of difference on how good other people perceive us while public speaking is poise; Poise means having control over our body and movements even when we are feeling anxious, stressed or uncomfortable.
One way to practice having poise is by standing in front of a mirror and doing deep breathing exercises; another way is to focus on one specific thing at a time such as keeping our hands at our sides instead of playing with hair, fidgeting with clothes etc. Pausing for a beat after making a point during public speaking can also help us regain composure if we feel that we are losing it. Lastly, try to avoid crossing your arms across your chest as this will make you look closed off from the audience which will come across as uninterested or disinterested in what you have to say.
One thing that I know for sure is that public speakers do not have time to waste on trying out all kinds of public-speaking courses in order find something which will help them improve their public-speaking skills or even just teach them how to become better at it without wasting any more money. That being said one may ask themselves, “how much does it cost to become a public speaker anyways” so if this question has crossed your mind then you should continue reading.
There are a variety of public-speaking courses that can be found online and in person, but the cost for these courses can vary depending on the institution or company which is offering it. Generally, public speaking courses range from $100 to $2000+, so if you’re serious about becoming a public speaker then expect to pay a decent amount of money. However, there are some cheaper alternatives which I will mention below.
Another option for improving your public speaking skills without spending any money would be to join Toastmasters; this is an international organization which helps its members become better public speakers by providing them with opportunities to give speeches in front of live audiences. The best part about joining Toastmasters is that there is no cost involved.
The most expensive public-speaking courses are those which come with a lot of extra costs besides the actual public speaking course. A lot of these public speaking courses not only want you to pay for their program, but they also make you commit yourself by paying an annual membership fee after taking the public-speaking classes so that you can continue receiving more training on how to become better at public speaking or other skills such as leadership and management. Some companies will require multiple years worth of payments from its members in order to belong fully into the organization; this can be anywhere between $500-$1000 depending on who is offering it. If all this sounds like too much money then I suggest finding a cheaper option because some companies out there do offer free public-speaking courses and there are public- speaking clubs in your area which you can join for free.
Help me foster community by commenting in the comment section below. Your feedback helps in deciding what topics to discuss in these blogs. Finding our voice in life in important for so many reasons. A healthy community is one that assists each other in finding their voice and listening to discover ways to help each other live out their best possible experiences of life.