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Most audience members will be receptive to what you have to
say – so be confident that what you are saying matters
The very idea of public speaking gives a lot of people nightmares,
yet it's one of the most important skills you can master. Being able
to talk with confidence and inspire people through words is a powerful
tool, and once you've become an expert at it you'll reap the benefits
in your social life as well as in your career.
Tell your audience a story
People have told stories throughout the centuries. Stories are able
to excite, inspire and engage audiences more so than dry statistics
and facts. So remember that when it's your turn to public speak, tell
a story. Even if you're talking about a maths conundrum, turn it into
a story because that's how you hook an audience. That's what Obama did
in his big election speech – he focused on the story of a 106-year-old
woman, and it worked. His path to the White House is in no small part
due to his public speaking prowess.
But even if you have no plans to enter politics, being able to
present yourself well will work wonders for any career path that you choose.
Always entertain, always be passionate
If you're giving a speech, avoid using intellectual jargon – be
concise, be brief and always make a point. Throw in a bit of humour
and, most importantly, never start a speech by apologising for what
you're about to say – the audience will switch off immediately.
Remember that this is your moment to shine. If you're up there
talking about something you're passionate about, let that come through
in your tone and your words, and remember to smile. A smile can win as
many people to your cause as words.
Practice, practice, practice
Practice and research beforehand. Preparing for public speaking is a
great way of consolidating your own thoughts and knowledge on a topic.
Record yourself so you know how long your speech is going to be and
don't rely too heavily on things like slides with copious amounts of
text on them – too much information in the background can be confusing
and distract the audience from what you're saying.
Finally, remember that public speaking isn't designed to humiliate.
Most audience members will be receptive to what you have to say – so
be confident that what you are saying matters.
For those who are studying at uni or TAFE, completing a public
speaking assignment at some point is almost a certainty. That's why
research and practice are so important to building confidence and
mastering the art.