SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 24 July 2020Soft Skills: Why They are Harder Than You Think and How You Can Acquire Them
It is no secret that when we speak to someone, we want that person to listen to us. And, it's no different when one is public speaking to an audience. Your time is valuable and your message is important. Public speaking is such a valuable skill to have in the working force and while in school. Unfortunately, many people fear public speaking. However, with confidence and practice with public speaking one can seize more opportunities and stand out in the working world. That is why everyone should understand the crucial factors contributing to one’s public speaking skills.
When people imagine someone public speaking to a large audience they do not picture someone shy and quiet. A good public speaker illuminates power. They stand tall and most importantly they are loud! This is because you are just one person speaking to a large group of people. In order to even have your ideas heard you need to make sure everyone can hear you so they can process what you are talking about.
I myself have been public speaking for my job as a campus tour guide almost daily for months. Therefore, I practiced projecting my voice more and more as I settled into my job. Consequently, I noticed the audience was much more engaged throughout the entire tour when I learned to project my voice to the entire audience for the full hour-long tour. Thus, through experience I know projecting one’s voice is essential to getting one’s audience to listen.
In all honesty, one should seem approachable when they are public speaking. Smiling will show your audience that you are happy to be there with them and that you are genuinely happy about what you are speaking about. Also, it is a great feeling when the audience asks you questions about your speech topic. Not only are they fascinated by what you are talking about, but you also seem approachable and relatable to your audience.
Public speaking is one of the most feared acts in the world, understandably so. You are talking to what usually is a room filled with strangers. However, if you know what you are speaking about there is no reason to be nervous. Even if you are truly scared before your speech; just stand tall, smile and speak up and confidence will come naturally over time. Also, from experience I know public speaking will make you a more confident person in regards to speaking to other people. This is because public speaking improves your communication skills.
Personalize your speech for each and every audience!
When public speaking one is generally talking to an immensely diverse audience. People of different cultures, backgrounds, states, ages, genders and countries are bound to be present in your group. It is okay to improvise during your speech to try and respectfully relate to your audience members. For instance, in the past I have given tours to a group of students all wanting to major in engineering. Hence, in this instance I will skip stuff about other majors and talk a lot more about the engineering major because I learned this small fact about my audience.
Practice before you give your speech!
If one practices their speech they will essentially know the basis of what they are speaking about. Therefore, that fear of forgetting your speech will lower and you will seem a lot more confident and knowledgeable on your topic. Also, it will prevent you from looking down at your notecard. Thus, giving yourself some more credibility on your topic.
How frustrating is it when you are having a conversation with someone and they just cannot seem to look at you? This is the same during a speech. While it is not rude to look down during a speech, it does make you look nervous. Also, eye contact regularly throughout your speech gives you so much credibility among your audience.
Interact with your audience!
In my opinion the best speech is one that does not seem scripted or robotic. Of course, it easy to simply memorize your speech and then present it to an audience. However, if one is just spewing word after word to an audience they may become overwhelmed with what you are saying. They most likely have questions. So it is very important to be sensitive to your audience and at the very least ask them occasionally if they have questions about your speech topic. This will make your audience feel included. Which, is very important because they are taking time out of their days to listen to what you have to say. Hence, out of sheer respect one should make sure they feel like their time was not wasted.
Personalize your speech
This will avoid a very boring speech. Also, it will make you much more relatable to your audience if you add in actual experiences you have had with your topic. Thus, much more personable than reciting fact after fact.
Understand there will be some people who seem uninterested.
It is unfortunate, but it is unavoidable you will have an audience who is 100% interested in your topic. I am mentioning this because it is important to understand that it is nothing personal. For example, in my experience public speaking as a tour guide for my university there has definitely been at least one uninterested audience member. However, when it happens it is generally because that person is upset over something else out of my control. Thus, one cannot let an unmoved audience member lower their confidence and ruin their presentation!
Make public speaking something you look forward to, instead of something you dread. The way I think of it is: how often do you have a large group of people giving you their sole attention on a topic you are speaking about? Hence, I personally enjoy the freedom I get with that power. Also, public speaking is unavoidable in life; whether you are in elementary school or beginning your career. So, you might as well learn to have some fun while doing it.
Simply remember everything you know about public speaking and what you just read and you will be prepared during your speech!