If you fear public speaking, you are not alone. Known as “glossophobia”, the fear of public speaking is the most common of all social anxieties.
Luckily, it is an anxiety that we can be taught to conquer. From the popular Ted Talk series, there are six significant ways in which we can improve upon our public speaking abilities.
- Use the tools in your vocal box
Register: Speak in a deeper voice so that you are associated with authority.
Timbre: Meaning the way your voice feels. People prefer rich, smooth and warm voices.
Prosody: Meaning the melody of how we speak. It’s important to avoid monotone.
Pace: It’s important to vary the speed of your speech, and strategically use silence.
Pitch: Varying in pitch can change the feeling or message that comes from a statement.
Volume: The use of loud and soft speech can add emphasis or cause your audience to listen carefully and respectfully.
- Be Engaged: Be passionate and familiar enough with your presentation so that you can be excited and animated while you present, rather than just reading information from a screen. This will make your audience want to stay engaged with you.
- Keep Their Attention: Keep the presentation short. Typically, people’s attention spans start to drop off after about 18 minutes. Keep their attention by using headlines instead of bullet points and adding images to PowerPoints.
- Connect with the Audience: Make it easier for your audience to understand what you’re talking about by drawing parallels between them and your topic, in order to present familiar situations in a relatable way.
- Body Language: Body language affects our behaviors. For example, we smile when we’re happy, but we also feel happier when we smile. Therefore, you must keep your posture open, rather than hunched over and closed off so that you send the right message to your audience.
- Break the Ice: Tell a joke before a talk, or even poke gentle fun at oneself in moderation. This help the you stay calm your nerves, and it will help the audience relax and be entertained.
Overall, with baby steps, all of us can overcome the fear of public speaking, as long as we practice presenting and remember to engage the audience.
For an inside look at each of the above tips in action, check out the following Ted Talks: How to Speak So That People Want to Listen by Julian Treasure, The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen by Hans Rosling, How to Pitch to a VC by David S. Rose, How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek, Once Upon a Time, My Mother… by Carmen Agra Deedy, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are by Amy Cuddy, How I Beat Stage Fright by Joe Kowan