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Help Me! I'm Afraid of Public Speaking

It has been more than a decade since we started to do training. Looking back it has been an incredible journey for the both of us. My uncle always introduces me to people as an engineer in the wrong profession!

Anyways today we want to share about public speaking. Did you know that almost 80% of the world's population in the world have a fear of public speaking? One of the most well-known statistics in the US states that more people are afraid of public speaking than death! Go figure.

Today if people look at us conducting a training, seminar, conference or workshop people will have the impression that we are natural public speakers. To tell you the truth we were far from natural.

We were never the speaking type. In fact one of the reasons why Elin my wife chose me was because I did not talk much but, look at me today. We were not debaters at school nor were we speakers during our university days. It's a skill that we acquired and learned along the way.

There's a saying, "Every Master Was Once a Disaster!" I was definitely a disaster. I remember the first time when I started work one of my first assignment was to be the Master of Ceremonies (MC) for an official function at our office for our customers. I still remember on that particular day, instead of being the MC, I instead went on a different MC - Medical Certificate!

In fact I still remember the first official presentation that I had to do in Bangi. It was very nerve wracking as I could not even go to work on that day. We took the day off so that we could go to the venue. It is very important to do this. I tried to do a mental rehearsal of the presentation. To me it should be easy as I have done it before one on one and I have seen people doing it so many times. Boy was I wrong!

That night, I froze! I was so hard and I could not move. It was like my whole body was in a shock that the rostrum was more alive! Can you imagine that my coach stopped the presentation in the middle and asked me what's wrong! I told him that I was nervous and I was scared!

Well, that was many, many, many years ago. The truth is that if we can do, so can you. Understand the fact that success is something that you can learn and public speaking is also a skill that you can learn and become a master. The important thing here is that you must have the right attitude!

Here are 20 tips that could help you to improve on your public speaking skills:

Watch the Experts

The best way to start learning good speaking methods is by watching good speakers. Ten years ago, this would have been more difficult, but today you can quickly find good example speeches online.

Know Your Material

Before you give you speech, do enough research to have a strong grasp of the subject matter. You do not want to forget an important fact.

Take Notes

Although you do not want to read your entire speech off a script, writing down a brief outline will help you stay focused.

Rehearse In Private

One of the most important keys to giving a strong speech is the practice. Rehearse your speech enough that you can (almost) say it in your sleep. Do it in front of a mirror!

Rehearse To a Small Audience

After practicing by yourself, give your speech to a small audience. After you finish, ask for feedback on your performance. You can then use this advice to perfect your presentation even more.

Know Your Audience

Your speech should be carefully targeted to your audience. If you have to use terms that are unfamiliar to them, you will need to give the definitions.

Know Your Surroundings

Before you give you speech, visit the place you will be speaking. If possible, you might even try to have a practice run on location.

Dress Properly

Depending on your audience, you may need to dress formally or casually. In addition, dress in layers to prepare for a wide range of temperatures.


Almost everyone feels nervous when speaking. Calm you nerves by pausing before starting you speech and by channeling your nervous energy into enthusiasm.

Start With an Intriguing Question or Fact

Most audiences subconsciously give the speaker 20 seconds to capture their attention. Engage your audience quickly with an engaging question or startling fact.

Realize That Your Audience Is On Your Side

Very rarely do audiences want the speaker to fail. Most of the time, the audience will want you to succeed. After all, who wants to sit through a boring presentation?

Use Gestures

Do not be afraid to use hand motions. As long as you use them naturally, gestures will add to your speech.

Use Visual Aids

In addition to gestures, visual aids, ranging from high-tech Power Point presentations to simple chalkboard diagrams, can help keep visual learners interested.

Do Not Over-Use Visuals

Although visuals are very useful, too much of a good thing can be bad. Use visuals sparingly and tastefully. (Yes, your spectacular slide show transitions will distract and annoy the audience.)

Speak With Conviction & Confidence

If you want your audience to believe you, you have to first believe yourself. If you do not believe your speech yourself, do not give that presentation in the first place!

Do Not Speak To Your Notes

First-time speakers are often tempted to talk to their notes. Instead, set yourself apart by speaking to... surprise... your audience!

Pauses In Your Speech

Do not be afraid to add silence to your speech. In fact, this quietness will help keep your audience awake and focused on your topic.

Add Humour and tell Stories to Engage & Relate with Your Audience

Although too many jokes can ruin your persuasiveness, the occasional humorous anecdote will add levity to your speech and engage your audience.

Don't Apologize For Nervousness

Some speakers feel a need to apologize to their audience for sounding nervous. Don't do this! Not only does this mistake detract from your persuasiveness, but it will not be useful information for your audience.

Prepare a Good Ending

Rather than mumbling, "Well, I guess that's it... " as you slowly back off the platform, plan a strong ending. One ideal ending is a call to action. For instance, in speech about blogging, I might end, "Now, go start your blog today!"

Written by: Amirul Mannan

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