10 Must-Know Tips For Becoming Outstanding Public Speaker And Creative Storyteller
“You have to learn to communicate in life, it’s enormously important. If you can’t communicate and talk to other people, you’re giving up your potential.”
– Warren Buffet
If you ask anybody to name a few things they fear the most, the chances are that public speaking is one of them. Many of us dread it, but in a world where most of us will have to give a public address at some point in our lives, it’s a fear that we should probably get over.
In 2016, I did a few things for the first ever time, and giving a public speech was one of them. I had to stand up in front of a room bursting with experts and somehow impart my own personal wisdom and insights to them without looking like a blubbering idiot. My nerves were shot, and I could feel my heart beating wildly in my chest.
But the worst part was not giving the speech. The worst part was the night before, when all kinds of worries took over me.
As it turned out, all my anxieties were for nothing. I didn’t collapse on stage, I wasn’t fired or cuddled by a naked stage-invader, and there was no jeering. In fact, it went pretty well. Why? Because I did a few things beforehand to improve my chances of success. Here are 10 must-know tips for becoming an outstanding public speaker and creative storyteller:
You might have heard Donald Trump criticising his rival Hillary Clinton in the recent Presidential debates for preparing her speeches. According to Mr Trump, preparation is simply a sight that Clinton doesn’t really know what she is doing.
Okay, so maybe Donald Trump has amazing recall and doesn’t need to prepare his speech. But the rest of us mere mortals have to prepare. Otherwise, we left with very little to say.
Solid preparation helps you to iron out any mistakes, as well as avert you from the embarrassing disaster of not being able to answer someone’s questions. It will also reduce stress massively.
Does silence indicate awkwardness and thus a lack of confidence on the speaker’s part?
It could – but it usually doesn’t.
Nervous speakers don’t hang around. As soon as they enter the stage, they start rattling off their speech.
Within 30 seconds, they’re finished!
Silence actually shows confidence. When you stride out onto the stage, take a few moments to gather your thoughts. Don’t fire off a verbal machine gun straight away. Get yourself composed. You will look good.
Tell Us A Story
You are far more likely to catch an audience’s attention and hold it if you tell them a story.
The classic line “Let me paint you a picture” always works because it involves the audience into something they can suddenly visualise and feel.
As well as this, your speech has to have a clear narrative structure. It needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end. This gives your audience orientation points and helps to guide them along.
Humans are conditioned to look out for narratives. If you don’t give your audience one, they will be left confused and will struggle to keep up.
Watch TED Talks
TED Talks are not necessarily always given by master public speakers. In fact, some of the speakers that give talks have probably never given a public talk in their life. They’re just human beings like you and I who one day did something so extraordinary, that the organisers of the TED talks invited them to give a speech about it.
And they all gave masterful TED talks.
What you can do to help your own game is watch these guys and girls give their speeches, and keep a lookout for anything you might learn from their performance. What is their body language like? How is their posture? How do they open the talk, and how do they end it? What is their tone of voice like? How fast or slow do they talk?
Engage Your Audience
There are many ways to engage your audience, and doing so will turn you into an awesome public speaker.
For example, you could make eye contact with the many people in the room, as this will help to engender the audience’s trust in you.
Don’t Fight The Fear
Let’s say you’re fearful of getting up on-stage and giving a public speech. Should you try to fight your fear?
Or should you just run with it?
Our intuition tells us that we should, of course, try very hard to conquer our fear. But when giving a speech, your fear could actually count in your favour.
Audiences like a bit of vulnerability, and be exposing your humanity, you’re actually engaging the people you’re talking to a bit more.
Instead of battling your fear, run with it – but also understand it. For example, most of us don’t actually fear speaking to a lot of people in a room. What we really fear is rejection or being asked a question we can’t answer.
We can quell the fear somewhat by mitigating it. If you fear not being able to answer a question, do your research and practice your responses.
Use Visuals Sensibly
A visual must not take something away from the speech. It must add something to it.
Remember That Anyone Can Give A Public Speech
You might find it hard to believe, but the great American investor Warren Buffet used to be terrified of giving public speeches. So afraid was he that in college he avoided any class that would require a presentation!
But then he thought to himself that if his classmates can give a good speech, why can’t he? He’s just as human as they are!
So, he booked himself onto a course and sharpened up his public speaking skills, which are nowadays second nature to him.
No one is born with public speaking skills. These are acquired skills that anyone can develop if they do the right things.
Make Your Idea Strong
You will be so much more confident of giving a public speech if you know your idea is good.
It’s like anything we do in life. If a woman knows she looks amazing, she’s going to stride into a first date feeling fab.
Give yourself a boost of confidence by making your idea as strong as possible. And in fact, your idea is worth so much more than your delivery.
Think about it – who cares how amazing your delivery is if your idea is weak?
Make your idea strong first, and then focus on how you’re going to deliver it.
Lastly, you need to practice as much as possible. Practice in front of a mirror, in front of your friends and family, and record your practice speeches to decipher where you’re going wrong and what needs improving.
Practising will give you the confidence that you know your speech inside out, and will therefore help to minimise any potential mistakes.