Public speaking is something that a lot of people really struggle with. In fact, Fear of public speaking referred to as Glossophobia is often recorded as one of the most common phobias, according to statistic brain. Even the most seasoned public speakers have moments when they get nervous before giving a speech or a presentation. Working in Public Relations, we are often called to speak on behalf of the organization. Regardless of how nervous we are, there are steps that you can take to curb the anxiety and perform well in front of a crowd. In her Ted Talk, Kelly McGonigal, a Psychologist at Stanford University, offers tips on how you can make stress your friend, by channeling your body’s natural reactions to stressful environments, such as in front of a crowd, into the positive energy that you need to captivate and inform your audience.
As Public Relations professionals, our bottom line is getting the organization’s spokesperson prepared to speak in public or give presentation. But every once in a while, we have to be the mouthpiece of our organization, speaking on behalf of our clients. We cannot let nervousness get in the way of us communicating our message efficiently. So here are a few things that you can do in order to ensure that you are in control of the situation when speaking in public.
Know your key messages
In this blog post we talked about writing key messaging. When you know your key messages well and are confident with them, it will always be easy to speak confidently, because you already know what you want to communicate about your organization or your client. When you are confident with what you have to say, you are more likely to be in control of the situation, eliminating any form of nervousness. Always know your organizational key messages well enough to be able to speak on them at any given moment.
Know your audience
Establish who will be at the audience during your speech. Are you speaking with students, industry experts or corporate stakeholders? These three audiences would require three different approaches. Cater your remarks to the specific audience in order to make it interesting and valuable. At the end of your remarks, you want everyone to feel inspired and giving the wrong speech to the wrong audience will have the opposite effect.
If you have been given a heads up that you will be giving a speech or speaking at a certain event, make sure that you have prepared your remarks ahead of time. It is obvious when someone is winging a speech since they often ramble on, lacking well-constructed sentences. Write your speech out completely, noting everything that you would like to say. When writing the speech, focus on the introduction, main points or key messages, body, and conclusion. Prepare an attention getter to get your audience engaged immediately by posing questions, incorporating anecdotes and narratives into your speech.
Be Aware of Non-Verbal Communication
When speaking in front of an audience, realize that your body language is also communicating. Make sure that you take on a confident stance, and do not slouch over podiums, or slouch in your seat if you are presenting on a panel. Make eye contact with as many people as you can in the room and avoid looking down at your notes. This will keep people engaged, and focused on what you have to say.