Communication is a secret sauce for success in any field. Communicate an idea in a concise,simple way. We are social creatures, who interact on constant basis for various needs. Words matter a lot. It can show others if you are empathetic or arrogant. It can connect, blossom new friendship, or break it.
Let me tell you about my experience a bit
I spoke for the first time on stage while I was in my school. It was a simple idea to conduct a quiz during our assembly meet in the morning. I prepared what to say and how to say it from my teacher. But once I was there on stage speaking, I forgot everything I should say. I was shivering from inside, voice in my mind was saying “You are messing things up. Nobody is paying attention to what you say, they are making fun of you right now”.
How I figured out the magic of speaking
It was long back and I decided getting up on stage is not my thing. I felt jealous about people speaking in stage with confidence. Inside, I wanted to but had this fear of failure. But all this changed when I was in a play at my first job during my training. It was about a topic
Learning is Continuous. It was a simple play written by my friend. I was an after thought as my friend asked me to join as original person was sick. So I was like ok, I am going to stand and say couple lines as asked from me. So play happened, few claps here and there ( not a great play, story for another time ). But thing is, there was a Q&A after the play was over. The guy who I replaced has to take the question. My friend gives me the mic to take the questions on spot. I was not told about this, also given my history on stage speaking I was not comfortable.
Nowhere to go, I decided I was going to answer by having eye-contact only with the person asking question. It helped to forget that others exist. All I have is one-to-one communication, rather than a big stage. This simple thing did a magic within me. Had some applause/appreciation for the first time in my life for something I did. Not that I am a great speaker, but I can say I am not thinking about myself as a horrible speaker. This also made me to learn bit about public speaking and how pros are acing this.
I learnt bit more on public speaking and made some notes on this topic. So here there are…
- Speak slow.
- Turn up your volume. It’s not shouting but loud enough to engage people ( I am told many times that I do speak low )
- Try to have some eye contact with your audience
- Remove all barriers between you and audience. Podium,pen, paper etc.
- If you made a mistake, don’t apologize. Keep moving on.
- Have a point and make it quick. Don’t keep speaking forever and circling around with no end in mind.
- Avoid ending your sentences with question mark but with period when you speak.
- Your sentences should say something we can content, analyze or argue about. Not a vague form of title which doesn’t do much.
- Greet your anxiety. Say its normal and never let your imagination spin things out of proportion.
- Be in the moment, it is your opportunity.
Value Proposition. Don’t make your point too generic. Rather saying “This helps to save money” , say how it saves the customer’s money. Be specific.
- Avoid repeating yourself. Look for words you repeat often and avoid it. For example some say “So”, “Ugh”, “Hmm” etc. Stop using these fillers. We need to do this with intent
- Don’t be afraid of pauses when you speak. It avoids fillers and it helps audience to absorb what you said.
- Know what your audience want from you.
VocalFry, turn up your volume to overcome it. This is a piece of advice from Joel Schwartzberg. see this video
- Humour is very well connecting, but risky. Avoid it if you can.
- Avoid adverbs and adjectives if you can. This article talks about why you should.
- Finally Practice. Make a connection of words with your mind. Speak it out alone. Be out there and it’s ok to fail. Every great speaker has been through this initial phase.
I learnt from my friends and people I know, they too have nightmares about public speaking.
Some fear and some think they are not cut out for it. But when I hear them saying that, I say to myself
If I could do it, you too can do it.
We can do anything in life. We can learn a new thing. Commit to something new or follow your heart. Speak in public and share your stories.
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