If you find yourself needing to make a speech and you are not a professional speaker you will almost certainly be searching for as many tips as you can discover to help you with your task. And you will hoping to find some kind of ‘magic formula’ that will ensure that you can make a speech that is delivered confidently, effortlessly and to the point. And, naturally, you will want your speech to be witty and entertaining.
Real life, however, is generally somewhat different.
No matter how much effort might go into preparing your speech, three common but mistaken assumptions are likely to creep in, making your task all the more difficult.
That all audiences are hostile towards speakers and that in order for your speech to be successful, you will need to win their approval.
In fact, the opposite is true. Your audience actually wants you to make a successful speech. Human nature dictates that our natural empathy with a Fellow Being means that we will feel another person’s discomfort when we witness it. If you are experiencing embarrassment, nervousness or unease whilst addressing your audience, then they will be sharing in that experience too.
No audience wants to feel bad on your behalf, so instead of being hostile towards you, they are actually willing you to make a really good and confident speech.
That one of the main tips on public speaking is that you need to include a number of jokes or anecdotes in every speech you make.
Wrong – although you will find this assertion high up on nearly every list of public speaking tips you might come across. A successful speech really does not depend on the inclusion of jokes and anecdotes.
After all, if you were naturally gifted at telling jokes and stories, you wouldn’t be worrying, right? The fact is, the majority of people have great difficulty in even remembering a punchline, let alone be able to deliver it with style and finesse, so why make delivering your speech even more nerve-jangling than it already is by trying to include ‘funny’ stories just for the sake of it?
That you need to show that you are an expert on the subject you are speaking about or your audience will see you for the fraud that you are and heckle and boo you.
Again, this is an extremely common assumption and way off the mark. In reality, you aren’t required to hold expert status for your topic in order to deliver a confident and informative speech.
What you do need to know, however, is how to go about researching your topic in order to discover the best and most relevant material to deliver to your audience. If you can get this right – and it is just a matter of learning the correct research technique – you will be able to put together a speech on any topic, for any audience easily and successfully, time after time.
So, before you begin your search for a list of ‘magic’ tips on public speaking, make sure you get rid of these three, completely misleading speech-making assumptions.
Remember that your audience doesn’t start out being hostile towards you – they really do want you to do well and give the best and most entertaining speech they have ever heard. After all, they want to feel good for you – and so also for themselves.
Secondly, that there is no requirement that you absolutely must include jokes and funny stories in your speech. Unless you feel comfortable relating anecdotes and can recall punchlines faultlessly, don’t put yourself under additional pressure to be a comedian as well as a speech-maker.
And finally, don’t struggle in the belief that you need to be an expert on the topic you are speaking about. Your sole duty is to deliver your speech well and in doing so, your audience will naturally accept that you are knowledgeable about your subject. This you can achieve by thorough and appropriate preparation and research before actually building your speech – a much more achievable task than attaining true, expert status, wouldn’t you agree?
So, when searching for tips on public speaking, look first to rid yourself of these three, common misconceptions and you will have already gone a long way towards your goal of delivering a successful, confident and satisfying speech for your audience.
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