What are the problems in public speaking, and how do you overcome
In public speaking, you speak to an audience.
Unlike a presentation with slides or visual aids, a public speaker
uses only voice, body language, and at most, a piece of paper for
help. This is what makes it so challenging.
Let’s examine some common problems and how you can manage
- Lack of confidence, mainly because
you are weak on the subject matter. Remember, the audience would
like to learn from you and think about what you’ve said.
Read up if you are unsure. Rehearse difficult portions.
- Nervousness, such as stage fright—a
result of being overly self-conscious that you are not as good
as the audience, or that they will laugh at you or your mistakes.
No! Your audience will be accommodating of your mistakes if you
are trying your best
- Insensitivity or disrespect. Don’t
offend your audience by making rude remarks or distasteful jokes.
- Not public speaking. Speak!
Do not read or memorise and rote-speak. You will appear to be
artificial and bore your audience.
- Fear of the audience, or being intimidated
by the sea of faces looking at you. Remember, they are there to
listen to you; they look at you because they are interested. Be
encouraged by the friendly faces, and glance at them for confidence.
A safe and simple strategy to come off unscathed, especially in
your first speech, is to address these four areas:
- Time phases. In the pre-speech phase, prepare
well by understanding who your audience members will be, their
numbers and educational level. During the speech, create interest
by using active and concise language. Speak at an appropriate
pace, volume and language. Keep to the time. In the post-speech
phase, getting feedback helps you improve.
- Organisation of speech. Work on your introduction.
Choose a concise statement, a quote, an anecdote or a question.
Then move from point to point in oral paragraphs, separated by
noticeable pauses. Conclude with a summary, capturing the essence
or thrust of what you’ve delivered.
- Style(s). Decide on the best combination of
seriousness and humour. Modulate your voice for emphasis. Use
your body language effectively to suit your personality. Punctuate
and emphasise using both voice and body language appropriately.
Avoid distracting mannerisms such as fillers (e.g. “er”,
“hmm”), repetitive actions and unconscious habits.
Engage individuals across the audience through eye contact.
- Question & Answer. Another fear is the
Q & A because of its unpredictability. You can manage this
well if you know your content. Some questions seek your advice
or opinion outside your actual experience or area of knowledge.
If there are different approaches, mention them and say what you
would do and why. If a participant disagrees with you, acknowledge
the point and explain why you have your stand without arguing.
Finally, as your audience only listens to your speech,
it is important to be clear and accurate. Aim to leave a vivid impression
and a lasting one.