Brent Thomas is your stereotypical, “normal” guy. He strives to achieve good grades, he plays basketball in his free time, he has a part-time job, and he has dozens of friends. However, not unlike a large percentage of Americans, Brent fears speaking publicly. He suffers from the anxiety and loathes the idea of being in front of others with attention fully focused on him. Furthermore, he has difficulty preparing for a speech in a manner that cements his knowledge and confidence. In an effort to relieve Brent of such stress, I gave him this list of steps in order to better prepare oneself and reduce any anxiety before a speech:
1. Research your topic and know the ins-and-outs that are to be discussed (See “How to Know Your ‘Stuff’“).
2. Write down the key points of your speech and memorize them. These points will stick in your head and connect to the other memories in the details of your research.
3. Record yourself performing your speech with a webcam or recording device.
4. Watch videos of great public speakers and note their performance to revise your own speech.
5. Perform your speech in front of a small group of friends.
6. Receive feedback from the individuals you spoke in front of and take note of what they tell you.
7. Do something that will relax you and pull your mind from the speech itself.
8. Get plenty of sleep and awake the next morning with a mindset of success.
9. Go over your main points once more before your speech.
Are you more of a visual learner? See Brent’s steps for yourself:
I met up with Brent after his speech and he had this to say: “My stress was almost non-existent, my preparation helped so much, and my overall speech went smoother than it ever has. The Speak King rules!”
You must have an in-depth knowledge of your topic for your speech in order to catch any curveballs thrown your way by the audience in any questions asked or if your speech deviates from the path you set either in your mind or in an outline you created beforehand. You have it in your head that you MUST do the research and everyone tells you that it’s critical to your legitimacy, but they never tell you how to accomplish the task. Look no further.
It is crucial that you decide which questions you want answered by your speech and make a list of them. You can refer to these questions during your research and they will help you remain focused. Note the different means of retrieving material (the internet, people, a library) and attempt to pull a reliable source from each. If conducting an interview, think of questions beforehand, record what is said by the interviewee, and follow up your questions with more as they arise.
Research to back your speech is crucial to its overall success (no matter how many different colors you use to record your research with).
It is imperative that you record the author, title, publisher, and place and date of publication from the sources you have gathered. Be careful where you get your information from. Your research is only as legitimate as the sources you’ve collected. Using any source that may be unreliable can lead to your facts suffering from illegitimacy. Always back up your findings with additional proof. For example, if you find what you think is solid information from the Web, follow it up with more research from a journal or book.
Did you find the answers to the questions you had before your research? If not, keep digging or you may need to take a different angle on your speech topic. Follow these guidelines, and before you know it, you’ll be a “Speak King” yourself.
I’m going to break this to you as gently as I possibly can: this blog is about public speaking.
Don’t freak out. Don’t attempt to flee, switch your computer off, or let your heart leap from your chest. Public speaking is known to strike fear in people. A Gallup Poll conducted in 2001 surveyed U.S. adults about their fears. The number one fear was snakes at 51%. Next in line was public speaking, which received an affiliation of fear with 40% of people.
My aim with this blog is to qualm the fears and misconceptions people have about public speaking. Questions will be answered, such as: “Why is public speaking important?” “What can I do to reduce anxiety before and during a speech?” “Is public speaking important?” “What is the impact of public speaking on past presidential races?” “What is public speaking like in America compared to other countries?”
To begin, here are 9 quick tips for Public Speaking (courtesy of toastmasters.org) that will resonate throughout this blog:
- Know your material.
- Practice. Practice. Practice!
- Know the audience.
- Know the room.
- Visualize yourself giving your speech.
- Realize that people want you to succeed.
- Concentrate on the message – not the medium.
- Gain experience.