There are many circumstances under which someone might be called upon to address an audience: for example, a community meeting, a formal dinner, an awards ceremony, a school assembly, or an executive conference.
Whatever the event might be, there are many factors that one must consider when they are going to give a presentation. Moreover, in the business world, employees are often required to conduct workshops or seminars for coworkers or perhaps present new products or corporate prospectuses to existing or potential clients. However, not everyone who is called upon to address an audience will do so successfully.
According to the website Keynote Speakers, many new speakers fail to deliver a great speech because they are not well-prepared. Very often, people tend to focus more on their materials and less on their inner psychology.
Public Speaking Jitters
Regardless of the circumstances for the speech or the composition of the audience, the thought of speaking in front of a crowd (large or small) is enough to make some people quake in their shoes and break out in a cold sweat. In extreme cases, they might even become sick to their stomachs and physically debilitated. In fact, some people find the mere idea of public speaking totally paralyzing, psychologically and physically.
Anxiety is perfectly normal, though, even among the most practiced and accomplished of public speakers; however, these speakers have learned one simple rule that helps them control anxiety and use nervous energy productively. What is this rule? It’s “Be yourself.”
“The truth is that being a professional speaker starts with your ability to be yourself” says Alex Miller, the editor at Motivational Speaker. People are much more forgiving when you make a mistake on stage when you are being your natural self and not trying to impress people.
The Importance of Personality in Public Speaking
Of course, in saying that people should be themselves, it is assumed that they have pleasant personalities, or at least can project that image to an audience, because, as research has demonstrated, the one thing that skilled public speakers have in common is the ability to project a pleasant personality in front of an audience, In other words, skilled speakers come across as likeable individuals who genuinely care about the best interests of the people in attendance, Moreover, they project a believable fondness for those people as individuals, not mere faces in a crowd.
Establishing Rapport With the Audience
When speaking before an audience, people should make an earnest effort to accomplish two things:
- Communicate with listeners on a one-on-one basis.
- Make each and every person in attendance feel special and as if he or she is being spoken to directly.
Of course, this raises the question of how accomplished speakers make each member of the audience feel “special.”
Skilled public speakers make their listeners feel special in several ways:
- By addressing them with warmth and sincerity.
- By treating them with courtesy and respect.
- By showing them patience.
Things to Avoid When Speaking to an Audience
If they disagree with the viewpoints of audience members, skilled speakers do not say things to insult their listeners’ intelligence or that will alienate or antagonize them. Instead, they treat listeners as intellectual equals. Plus, they clearly explain their own viewpoints and they do so in detail, providing support in the form of credible arguments, reliable research, and/or supporting statistics. Above all, they never talk down to or patronize the people in attendance.
In short, the same qualities that make an effective conversationalist make an effective public speaker: empathy, respect, and sincerity. So, in order to become an accomplished public speaker, as well as one who is at least fairly comfortable speaking before an audience, people should make an earnest effort to talk “with” not “to” each person in the room. Make eye contact. Smile. Project warmth and sincerity. In other words, they should pretend they are sitting on the patio, sipping a cold glass of tea, and making conversation with a friend.
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