1. I GAVE A TERRIBLE SPEECH LAST WEEK. AM I A FAILURE?
No you are not. Just because you flopped at a public speaking event does not mean you are a failure. Success or failure at anything both depend largely on your efforts at learning the principles and practicing them often. Some people are better at communicating with audiences but anyone can learn the techniques to become an effective public speaker. If you bomb one speech, analyze what went wrong and look ahead to the next opportunity.
2. THEY SAY IF YOU DREAM IT, YOU CAN ACHIEVE IT. DOES THIS WORK FOR PUBLIC SPEAKING?
Top athletes perform in their minds all the time before getting down to business. They visualize themselves running perfect races, scoring perfect free kicks and serving perfect aces. You can borrow their techniques and adapt them to your public speaking. See yourself approaching the podium with confidence and delivering a gripping talk of great value. Imagine the audience smiling in appreciation. Do it often anytime you have to speak.
3. IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO BEFORE SPEAKING TO INCREASE MY CHANCES OF SUCCESS?
A greater part of speaking success is taking care of the details before you mount the stage. Get to the venue early and become familiar with the environment. Check to make sure the sound system and projector are all functioning. Ensure that you have a glass of water at room temperature and do not forget to go over your speech one more time.
4. I FEEL NERVOUS ANY TIME I AM ABOUT TO SPEAK. WHAT CAN I DO?
You know the feeling: sweaty palms, dry throat, pounding heart. These are classic signs of nervousness. When you notice these signs before your speech, there is only one thing you may feel like doing and that is fleeing. Nervousness and excitement actually feel the same. You can make them work for you if you change your thinking. Next time you feel nervous, tell yourself you are just excited to give the talk and you are sure your audience is equally excited to hear you. It works!
5. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHO IS IN THE AUDIENCE?
Yes, you may be the author of the speech but it is not about you. Anytime you have to prepare to give a speech, think about the people you will be speaking to. It is all about your audience. Find out who they are, what they do, what interests them. With this information, you can tailor you speech around their characteristics and come up with a talk that will speak directly to them.
6. HOW CAN I TRACK MY PROGRESS WHILE I AM STILL SPEAKING?
While you are speaking, observe the reactions of your audience and adjust your talk to suit them. If you see a few of them frowning, it may be a cue for you to explain a particular point. If the audience starts applauding midway through your speech, pause and allow them to appreciate the point. Do not just bulldoze your way through with a prepared speech.
7. I HAVE BEEN ADVISED TO LET MY PERSONALITY SHOW IN MY SPEECH. HOW DO I DO THAT?
Be yourself. Be real. If you use these techniques to reflect your personality, your audience will engage more and see you for who you are. If you are a humorous person, you can share funny stories in your speech to highlight that aspect of you to your audience. It will also make your speech more memorable.
8. WHAT IF THE AUDIENCE DOES NOT LIKE ME?
What if the audience likes you though? My experience is that people generally have high expectations of speakers. They hope that you do well in your presentation. This means most people will be on your side,willing you on to succeed. All you have to do is focus on being yourself. Do not worry about whether they will like you or not.
9. HOW SHOULD I DEAL WITH POWERPOINT SLIDES?
Use slides with caution. Use them to grab the attention of your audience and clarify a point you are making. Do not go over the top. Slide abuse can cause your audience to disconnect from your talk and divert focus away from listening to reading and writing down what is on the slides.
10. CAN I GIVE THE SAME SPEECH IN A DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENT?
Technically, yes you could give the same speech more than once but you would not make the same impact. An effective speech should speak to a particular audience at a specific moment. The temptation to give the same speech to different audiences is high but don’t fall into that trap. Suit your speech to your audiences and they will feel you are speaking directly to them.