Although the only way to truly overcome your fear of public speaking is to get up and speak, there are some things you can do right now to improve your public speaking skills. Half of the battle is to simply be aware that public speaking is an art form and there is much to it than simply standing up in front of a crowd and speaking. You need to develop a trained eye (and ear) — which is relatively easy to do (think about when your shopping for a new car, you tend to notice more of the cars your interested in on the road).
So here are seven things that you can do right now to improve your public speaking skills:
- When you watch someone give a speech (and this includes on TV), evaluate the speaker. You don’t have to create a written review, but consider what the speaker did right, what they could have improved and whether or not he or she accomplished their goal.
- Before starting a conversation, think about what you hope to accomplish with your conversation. Since a speech is simply a conversation with the audience, this will build you speech preparation muscles.
- Listen to people when they’re speaking in conversation and note their language and how others (including you) react to them. Sometimes, replacing a word here and there can improve the impact of your speech.
- Watch your TV on mute. Can you get a sense for what the person talking is communicating, their emotions or their passion? If you can, take note of what the speaker is doing so you can use the same techniques when you speak.
- Listen to talk radio. Although political talk is great for this (since politics is communication intensive) a show on any subject you’re interested in will work fine for this (there are some great shows on personal finance, car care and home improvement that I especially like). You can evaluate the effectiveness of the communication of the host, guests and the callers.
- Take a look at people you consider to be excellent speakers and make a list of what you feel makes them a good speaker. You can refer to this list as you work on your own speaking skills.
- Ask people who have heard you speak for an honest opinion of your speaking style. Ask them what they feel you do well and what you can improve on.
So as you can see, you can learn a lot about public speaking by watching others. Again, just being aware that public speaking is a bit of an art form will put you on the path to success.