One of the biggest fears that many people still have nowadays is speaking in front of the public. In FIRST, students learn how to create, share, market and protect their ideas. When pitching a project, a creator is usually given a limited amount of time to reveal the most important aspects of what they have created. That’s why it is so crucial to have skills that allow delivering a message in both clear and concise way.
Even though today, we have technology on our side helping us deliver the speech faster and easier, the idea of having hundreds or thousands of eyes looking at us still makes a lot of trouble. On the other hand, there are some who succeeded in attracting masses and deliver speeches listened by people around the world. How did they do it? Keep reading this article and discover how to build your oratory skills.
5 Ways to Build Your Oratory Skills
1. It’s very normal to be nervous
A great public speaker who manages to make crowds wait anxiously for his next speech is full of confidence. But, this doesn’t mean that he was born with it. Growing confidence to build oratory skills is a process that takes a lot of practice and perseverance. There are various techniques that you can use to gradually increase your confidence level. First, it is perfectly normal to be nervous. Moreover, it is very important that you carefully prepare your speech. When you know what you have to say and what questions to expect from your audience, then it will become easier to overcome emotions. If possible, it would be also great if you could practice in an as realistic as the possible environment. Finally, you can build your confidence by rehearsing out loud and do extensive research to know your audience. Thus, you will become able to anticipate their questions and stay away from uncomfortable situations.
2. Know what type of people are listening to you
Do you know who is your target audience? What kind of people is listening to you? Why are they doing so? Knowing your audience is the key to building strong oratory skills. Before you begin to write your speech and determine what type of message you are going to deliver, you should first think of who are the people who are going to receive it. Thus, you should start by understanding and knowing your listeners as much as possible. Knowing which are their biggest points of interest will help you choose your words easier. Moreover, this exercise will also help you determine your speech difficulty level. You should also not forget that your audience will connect to your speech if they feel that you share the same values and experiences. For example, if you don’t know how to “break the ice” and transmit a positive vibe to your audience, you can start your speech with an anecdote which will show them more about your personality and will also help get rid of emotions.
3. Don’t forget about the attention curve
In case you receive a time constraint for your speech, then it becomes clear that you should respect it. By having a time length for your speech will help you organize your ideas in a more concise way and focus only on the most interesting aspects of your message. Moreover, you should be prepared for any unexpected interruptions while you deliver the speech. Thus, you should be prepared with some messages placed in the middle which you can skip in case you get interrupted. The difficult part comes when you don’t have a clear timeframe. Therefore, you risk falling into the trap of talking too much and lose your audience focus. In this case, you should have in mind the concentration curve. In general, their focus will fade during the middle of your speech and will increase as you go to the end. Furthermore, if your message is longer than 15 minutes, then you should expect that their concentration level will decrease especially if they start becoming hungry or need to go to the bathroom.
4. Adapt to the feedback received from your audience
Your focus should always be on your audience. Therefore, while you deliver your speech, you should pay attention to how they are reacting. This means that in case their concentration level decreases, you should be prepared with a back-up plan to make them focus on your speech again. Their body language is the first source of feedback in this case. So, apart from focusing on delivering a clear speech, you shouldn’t lose sight of what your audience is doing while you speak. If you manage to know them very well, then it will become easier to gauge their reactions and deliver a message which will catch their attention from beginning to end.
5. Start strong and end dynamically
If you want to keep your audience’s attention from beginning to end, you should stay away from clichés. Instead of starting with phrases like “today I will tell you more about subject X”, it would be more exciting if you would start with an anecdote or quotation related to the subject. Even though you grabbed people's attention, it is very important what you do during the entire speech. So, if you managed to start strong, your audience will expect to keep the same trend until the conclusion. Therefore, you can grab their attention by adding a personal touch or telling stories with a pinch of humor or sarcasm. The conclusion is also very important. Summarize the main ideas when you reach the end of your speech. A strong statement added in the final phrases will make your speech memorable.
If you want to improve your oratory skills, you should know that practice doesn’t make it perfect. It is absolutely normal to not be perfect when delivering your speech. People appreciate more an authentic speech than a carefully calculated one. Pay attention to the tips above and take enough time to prepare for delivering your speech. Moreover, it is normal to not be able to manage your nerves during your presentation moment. However, practice will help you minimize them and be as natural as possible.
Contributed by: Daniela McVicker
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