Rhetoric is the art of public speaking and persuasion. Recorded centuries ago in Ancient Greece, it was taught at almost all the universities as a classical subject. It’s a part of becoming a leader and sharing your ideas in front of audiences.
While studying at a university, you probably also learned how to communicate effectively and confidently. Professors should probably encouraged you to express your ideas freely in front of other students, to discuss different issues and to defend your point of view.
Regretfully, not everybody can cope with this task and get rid of the fear. Do your hands sweat and shake, or does your voice become weak, when you have to speak in front of a large number of people? It is a problem, isn’t it? There are a number of personality traits which can complicate one’s life and fear is one of these. It doesn’t make your life better. On the contrary, your dread makes you feel depressed and miserable.
Task number one is to kick fear to the curb and become a confident speaker! This is a real goal that can be reached. The sooner you begin, the better results you will achieve.
Here’s a list of techniques to upgrade your public speaking skills:
1. Be prepared.
Sure, it matters a lot how well prepared your speech is and what research you’d done to learn more about the issue. But preparation is not only about writing and giving the speech. It is also about practicing and practicing. Also, be ready for possible questions from the audience. If you’ve done your research well enough, there is little reason for you to worry. Remember, too, that there is no shame in admitting that you don’t know all the answers.
Think about the impression that you are going to make. Every leader cares a lot about his or her image and tries to stick to it. Decide what image you want to project and develop your individual look and style of speaking.
2. Care about the audience.
It isn’t enough to just present information. It’s important to present information which meets the audience needs. If you want people to listen to you, talk about what they are interested in. When you deliver speeches, leave arrogance behind. There is no room for pride. Don’t forget that you need to explain your issue and deliver a message to people like you (students in your case). It’s not about demonstrating how smart you are, it’s about making everything clear to your listeners.
Imagine you are a patient educator working with students. Use expressions which are understandable to everyone. Include adequate pauses so that your audience can process the information. Explain things in your own words; don’t just cite someone’s else’s words from books. Check out our recommendations on how to effectively quote and paraphrase here.
3. Formulate an accurate message.
Is it interesting to listen to the speaker, who can’t clearly articulate what he or she actually wants to? Of course, it’s not! It shows lack of preparation and disrespect for the audience. It’s best to explain everything carefully as you understand it.
4. Work on your voice.
You should teach yourself modulate your voice for nuance and emotional impact. It will be totally worth your effort. You learn it once and then apply these skills throughout your life. You might ask, “Can’t I use a microphone?” Sure, most venues will provide a microphone, but know how to effectively use a microphone so that you are comfortable presenting with it. Every leader had a powerful, memorable voice. If you have one, there is no need to ask for more attention.
5. Use nonverbal communication.
Don’t underestimate the power of nonverbal communication. It’s a useful tool thanks by which you portray additional information. Your audience not only listens to you, it also watches you. If you accompany your words with relevant gestures, make pauses and change intonation, you give added nuances and shades of meaning to your message.
6. Find an example to follow.
When learning, you’ll obviously need some patterns. They can be live or recorded speeches of already famous leaders. Why not follow their style of speaking at first? Still after some time, you should develop your individual manner of speech, because thoughtless copying is not an option.
7. Use humor.
It’s a well known fact that humor brings people together. Try not to take everything too seriously. We all love some jokes and funny stories, why not include a laugh now and then? Try to be self-ironic as well, or use self-deprecating humor to establish closer contact with your audience. However, you should joke when appropriate, don’t overuse jokes or else your speech can become a poor stand-up comedy show and you’ll look like a comedian.
Remember that you won’t get results immediately. Count on practice and time, experience comes with these two things. It’s better to start with small groups of people. For example, ask your friends to assist you and become your loyal audience ready to listen to your eloquent speech.
While studying, try to grab any opportunity to talk in front of people. If your teacher asks you to prepare a report, find great material and present it in a highly interesting way!
Practice, practice, practice. You’ve heard that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!
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