HomeOpinion & Analysis6 tips to improve your public speaking skills (part 2)

6 tips to improve your public speaking skills (part 2)

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Last week I wrote about eight tips on public speaking and this article is a build-up to that. Thanks to responses and comments from last weeks’ article. That proved beyond reasonable doubt that many people have a fear of standing in front of a crowd to speak.

One way or the other every person is required to speak or address people, but the question is: do you have the presence, the gravitas or the energy to move people to action through your speech?

There are leaders that when they speak, we stop what we are doing and listen attentively, as they capture our attention, using their voice, posture, pose, pizzazz, resonance, pronunciation, energy, thoughtfulness, creativity, exuberance, eloquence and confidence. But there are those speakers that are boring, and mundane.

They might be preaching from the right text, but they are off tune. They might be contextually and correctly citing a scholar, but there is something that is missing in them. Today let us tackle tip, and tactics that capture the crowd and move people to elation and action.

Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm is infectious. It wafts into the atmosphere without too much effort. Enthused speakers breathe life to the listener. If you are enthused, you are sold out.

As a speaker you are always selling yourself and your ideas.

You are also selling your world view. Enthusiasm shows interest. If you have interest or eagerness, you can easily invest into a subject that you want to speak about.

A good example, there are pastors when they speak, they have enthusiasm and show depth and liking for their subject.

They show that they researched from the Bible and from other commentaries. But give the same text to another speaker, it does not move anyone. What is lacking? It is the enthusiasm. Gordon Parks once said: “Enthusiasm is the electricity for life.”

Engaging
It could be in a relationship, what makes it tick is the ability to engage with the one you love. This is true with public speaking. People have given you an ear, and the time and your talk should be engaging.

Know your audience, and relate to them. Another simple tactic is to know a few names of people in the audience and when addressing your audience you call out their names. Something special happens to you if your name is called in a crowd.

The heart melts because you are made to feel important. If that happens to you, it means it also happens to your audience. Use questions to engage your audience. This gives them time to think about a subject you want to introduce.

 Humour — By humour, I am not saying every speaker should be a comic speaker, but bring issues that make your audience laugh and relax. As a speaker, make fun of your past mistakes.

This makes you relatable, human enough, and people begin to see their own past mistakes, not as something bad, but a learning process. Use stories. Every person loves a story. Lessons weaved in a story are easy to remember and hard to forget.

Use great props that attract the attention of your listener. All the above examples should be used in moderation. Remember, too much of everything ends up boring. Sugar is sweet, but excess sugar spoils your cup of tea.

Experiences
There is nothing as powerful as a personal story. Weaving personal stories in an artistic, wise and creative way makes your speech worth listening to.

No one can copy your story. It is yours and it is forever scripted in the annals of your personal history.

Bring relevant past experiences. For example, let us say you are a marriage speaker, it will be great to bring your personal experiences of your love.

For example, your audience will be eager to hear how you met your spouse and the feeling that came along. People love stories and people learn from stories.

Remember, no one can copy your story. They can only speak about it, but it is yours and you own that story for life. Monetise your stories.

Emotional
Great speakers know how to attach an emotion to their speech. The ability to bring a special emotion at the nick of time makes you an incredible speaker. It is not about saying words that have no feeling.

Emotion is carried in your diction. Your choice of words brings a special emotion and aura. Your poses, pitch, tone and pace will all define the emotion in your speech.

For example, at the end of your speech, the call to action needs an emotion. For example, let us say you are selling a special product, the emotion that you bring at the end will determine who buys it. The ability to bring emotions into your speech is an art.

The basic primary emotional states include: Sadness, happiness, anger, surprise, sympathy, fear, disgust, surprise, love, boredom, and doubt.

Excellence

Polished speakers are not made on stage, they are built through excellence. Be excellent in how you dress, in the effective use of language, pronunciation, in your grooming and deportment.

Every bit of you matters and every bit of you should exude excellence. People buy into you before they buy into your speech. Every detail counts and as such great speakers have an eye for detail.

Exercise

Successful people work harder than average people and so are speakers. Great speakers work more in secret than on stage.

Mike Murdock says: “Successful people do daily, what ordinary people do occasionally”.

You become a success in your daily ritual. Why do you think great speakers are expensive to hire? Because they put hours of hard work before they are on stage. They prepare all the time. They speak before they speak. They reiterate, repeat and rehearse before they step on stage. They internalise every special quote they are going to use.

They pick the right words in advance. They systematise and structure their talk; to an extent that you might think they are a natural speaker. No, they had to do the hard work and homework very well.

In my interview with Vusi Thembekwayo, (also known as the rock star of public speaking), he said that when he is charging people for his speaking, he is not charging the time for being on stage, but for hours and years of hard work that he put into the speaking craft.

  • Jonah Nyoni is an author, speaker, and leadership trainer. He can be contacted on Twitter @jonahnyoni. Whatsapp: +263 772 581 918

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