I hate public speaking. Whenever anyone asks me to deliver a speech in front of people, I quickly say no. Just the thought of standing by myself on stage makes me nervous… and well, based on experience, all I ever did was stutter and get lost for words. However, when you’re a 20-something who’s trying to build their career (like I am), you will quickly realize how important public speaking actually is.
Public speaking doesn’t always mean getting up on stage like politicians do. It can also refer to presenting your ideas to your colleagues or closing a deal with clients. You will have to showcase yourself and your company to an audience at some point, and it could be vital in advancing in your career. This is why I decided to face my fear of public speaking, and attended a workshop.
Elevate Communications holds one-day public speaking and voice and accent workshops. There, I learned how to overcome my stage fright: through confidence in the form of preparedness and familiarity. You will need lots of practice to familiarize yourself with your speech. Here are some more tips on how to improve your public speaking voice to help you prepare!
6. Know when to speed up and slow down.
The ideal speaking rate is between 120 and 160 words per minute, but you can always alter your speed. Speaking quickly gives the impression of passion and enthusiasm. On the other hand, speaking slowly helps add emphasis to a point. Just take note that speaking too slowly can also work against you as your listeners may end up tuning out completely.
5. Converse with your audience.
Technically, public speaking is communicating to an audience. As such, you shouldn’t just randomly spit out words; you should try having an actual conversation with people. Making eye contact with someone you’re talking to expresses sincerity, which is why it is also a key aspect in public speaking.
You want to establish a connection with the people around you, right? Well, this technique lets you do that. Doing this will make people want to listen, so make sure they can hear you!
4. Use voice exercises.
Just like muscles, the human voice can be strengthened with exercises. Not everyone is born with a powerful voice, but there are daily voice exercise activities you can practice to build your speaking voice over time. A few examples include reading out loud, doing recitations, or recording and listening to your own voice.
3. Feed your brain.
Since an upset stomach can give you a hard time concentrating, it pays to be aware of the type of food that you eat before you speak. You might also want to consider munching on some brain food: protein. Did you know that protein provides norepinephrine and dopamine? These are chemicals in the brain that keep you alert, and regulate your mood and behavior.
2. Practice deep breathing.
You may have heard this in music class: your breath should come from your diaphragm and not from your chest. Yes, that is also applicable in public speaking. In order for your voice to become louder without screaming and without losing your diction or running out of breath, you have to learn how to regulate it.
1. Attend workshops.
By attending workshops, you will not just get an elaborated understanding of how these tips work; you will also get to practice with an actual audience. Practice makes perfect, and if you really want to overcome your stage fright, you have to practice on an actual stage. The awesome thing about workshops is that everyone will be supportive of you and give you pointers for improvement. Plus, you will get a certificate!
While delivering my own speech, Elevate was very supportive and did not make me feel ashamed or awkward. After all, everyone in the room came for the same purpose: to become great speakers. Even though I did not perform as well as the others, my willingness to learn was already a huge step. If you want to overcome your stage fright, you have to start somewhere – just like I did!