March 01, 2020
Is there anything more frustrating than writing a top-notch speech for your school assignment, only to fumble through the presentation? Contrary to popular belief, effective public speaking is an acquirable set of skills that anyone can learn, just like riding a bike or learning a new language. And if you’re facing a fear of public speaking? You’ll be glad to learn that you can overcome that too – we’ve got the tips to help you get your public speaking skills on track.

1. Clarify your ideas

Here’s a hard fact: If you can’t sum up your idea in a few sentences, you don’t know your topic well enough.

No matter what you’re presenting, if you can’t fully understand the concept you’re trying to relate, then you’re bound to end up with a long-winded speech and a foggy purpose – and that’s not the goal of effective public speaking.

Try it as an exercise; write down your speech’s concept in 2-3 sentences. If you can’t do it, go back to the drawing board; research, re-write and retry your speech again. Now try writing the concept down in a single sentence. Clarity is the key to effective speech-writing. It also means you’re better equipped to improvise your speech if you drop a sentence or can’t remember your lines.


2. Face your fears

Practice, practice, practice. The best way to overcome your fear of public speaking is to dive right in: Gather your family for a practice round in conditions that mimic the classroom, i.e. have them sit silently in front of you while you deliver your speech. Round up your friends and get them to act as a captive audience. Or you can even try taking up debating or drama lessons. Making public speaking more frequent is going to make the real thing less scary.

Once you’re up in front of your peers, notice what is happening to your body during times of nervousness. Does your breathing get faster? Does your heart start to race? Are your hands shaking? These are natural symptoms of fear or nervousness, and they can be overcome with slower breathing or distracting your brain from the source of the nerves.

Try breathing out for 6 seconds, then breathing in for 4 seconds. Repeat as long as necessary for your breathing to return to normal.

If your nerves appear while you’re waiting for your turn to speak, seek out sources of distraction from where you’re sitting. Read signs hung up around the classroom, check your planner for your next class or scribble a drawing in your notebook – anything that can take your mind off of the fear.


3. Take it from the experts

Everyone loves a great TED Talk. They’re the epitome of effective public speaking; inspiring, emotional and always charismatic. Curator of TED Talks, Chris Anderson lets us in on the secrets of making a TED-worthy talk in this video:


What tips can you share for effective public speaking? We’d love to hear them!

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