Here are some basic elements of public speaking which I learnt the hard way: by going up on stage.
Some of these tips are obvious, and some are out-of-the-box - but they work. Really.
Chill and be yourself. I know, really, when people go on stage – they try to imitate someone or speak conventional sentences. I mean, look at some of those old people at college and office functions – “What our age requires today is education. The government need to do bla bla..”
But really, what’s the point of all that?
Genuinely, please be yourself. Now how can you be yourself? Just talk to the audience like you are talking to a friend. Seriously – this might seem strange – how can you talk to so many people like you would talk to a friend? Just try it once. Talk as if you have a point and you want to convey it. If you want to jump, jump. If you want to say “no!” say no! – behave naturally!
Once, long ago I conducted A TERRIBLY boring quiz – I prepared like hell for it. When on stage I sat in some weird corner and asked questions like the news reader reads news. I was trying to just speak out stuff. And I felt terrible.
Another time much later, I was near the stage – when somebody suddenly said – “..you have to anchor today’s prize distribution ceremony, please”. I was surprised but I said “yes”. I went up on stage and said – “Hi friends!” And I had no script, no preparation, and guess what – the prof gave me details of what was going to happen in the next hour just before I got on stage! I walked around and smiled at the audience… I made impromptu comments. In fact, there was this song the participants had to complete to get quiz points. I instantly felt like it and invited a fantastic singer in the audience I knew to sing out the question for the rest of the audience! I laughed when I felt like it. I asked the audience to get their asses off the seats and clap! And they did! It was splendid and I wasn’t prepared. Many people later congratulated me about that anchoring thingy that day. And I felt awesome too!
I am not saying – don’t prepare at all. But really, chill. Be natural. And you will rock.
If it is difficult at first, keep doing it, one day it’ll happen, I promise.
Seriously – tell me, whenever you have presented in the past – has your only concern been the audience? See, generally – we keep thinking about ourselves. How to prepare. How not to get tensed up. But really, all that matters is the audience.
Look at that boring speech – the director gave at that function. He just went on about education and this and that. But you were in the audience: how did you feel when he was speaking ? Bored? No wonder the speech flopped. So you see the whole thing is FOR the audience. What does the audience want- think about that FIRST.
I’ll tell you about that flop show quiz? In that quiz I put all sorts of LOOONG text questions. The audience did not even understand what was happening. Sometimes, people were asking – “what was the question, what was the question? “ :)
After that I made a point to include LOTS of pictures and videos in everything I organized. I made it a point to repeat any questions clearly to the audience. I asked the audience questions.
Think for yourself – if you were in the audience what would you want? That you get to know exactly what is happening. That you can understand and relate to whatever that guy is talking in your real life. And zero gibberish please. So picture yourself in the audience. That’s important.
If you don’t know that – then everything will flop! I gave my project presentation recently – everything was perfect – I was talking so that others could understand – I was natural also – but it still didn’t work, why? Because I hadn’t completed my project well! So I finally told the professors that I was sorry but I had not prepared well enough. Seriously, if you don’t know what you are talking about, you are cheating the audience –it has to flop. On the other hand – if you really know what you are talking about – then you’ll handle any situation even if you are afraid. My friend Abhinav, he’s hesitant at times on stage. But his presentation was awesome and he got the first prize for project presentations! Why? Because he’s an expert on his project. You ask him anything, he has an answer!
So basically – if you have these three things – if you can be natural, if you focus on the audience and if you know what you’re speaking – from my limited experience - I’ll say you’re presentation thingy will rock. All the best. :)
What do YOU think are the bare essentials of public speaking? Tell me your views on how to improve public speaking skills.