Whether we’re addressing an audience or delivering a speech in a team meeting, we all need to speak in public at one time or the other. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), public speaking anxiety, which is also called glossophobia, affects around 73 percent of the population.
This shows that if you dread speaking in public, you’re not alone. All you need do is to face your fears and master the secrets of winning your audience over.
By engaging in thorough preparation and practice, you’ll be able to overcome your nervousness and put up an excellent performance during your presentation.
When it comes to training for public speaking, experts recommend taking a cup of coffee to simulate the stress of public speaking and practice speaking under that condition. Apart from that, they recommend avoiding the following 5 public speaking habits:
Delivering Generic Presentation Not Tailored to Your Audience
When you talk to a man about himself, he’ll listen to you for hours. However, if you’re not talking to your audience about themselves, they may not really want to listen.
Speakers often commit the blunder of delivering generic off-the-shelf presentations, not tailored to answer the questions their specific audience has in mind. When the speaker failed to do their homework, listeners would know, and their response would show disappointment, frustration, loss of interest, or anger.
To prevent this kind of scenario from playing out, consider asking yourself these questions: “Who’s my audience? What burning issues do they have? How does this presentation help them to address these issues?
All the best practices in the art of public speaking are based on one crucial tip: Know Your Audience.
Using Uhs, Ums, and Filler Words Excessively
As part of your preparation, record your next talk. Then, play the recording and listen to it. How many times did you say “Um,” “Uh,” or use other common filler words such as “Like,” “So,” “You know,” “Basically”?
Count the number of times such words appear in the recording. As speakers, we frequently use fillers unconsciously when our thoughts and ideas are unrehearsed, unstructured. In linguistics, fillers are referred to as speech disfluencies.
Not only do these repeated fillers annoy the audience, they also put the speaker’s credibility in jeopardy. What’s the way out? Briefly organize your thoughts and outline them. Then, rehearse these ideas aloud once or twice, and replace filler words with silent pauses.
Distracting or Inappropriate Body Language
One of the key aspects of public speaking is body language. Your non-verbal cues will have an impact on how the audience receives your message, how engaged your audience is, and how they see you as an individual. Thus, our body language during presentations can make or break us.
Avoid postures like hands in pockets; hands crossed over the chest as they indicate disinterest and could even show defensiveness. Your facial expressions, eye contact, and posture all add up to the ‘truth’ in the message you‘re passing across.
Working on your body language on stage can have a major impact on how your audience perceives you, and the way you feel about public speaking in general. By staying calm and putting your nerves under control during the presentation, you can avoid any accident, distracting movements, or poor posture.
Most speakers — whether beginners or experts — fail to establish meaningful, sustained eye contact with their listeners. Their eyes scurry from one person to the other unconsciously and dart around the presentation room, without even pausing for a few seconds to actually see the recipients of their message.
A lack of eye contact can indicate disinterest, insincerity, insecurity, shiftiness, detachment, and even arrogance. You can visually connect and convey confidence by maintaining eye contact for at least 2 – 3 seconds per individual, or long enough to make a complete sentence or phrase.
Further, sustained eye contact helps you turn your talk into a conversation. It also establishes a bond between speaker and listener, and this connection benefits both parties.
Turning Your Attention Inward
This attitude is narcissistic, but I don’t mean self-love or arrogance here, please. What I mean is, worrying about how you’re performing, rather than putting your focus on whether your listeners are actually learning what they need in the talk.
Anxiety can make speakers turn their attention inward rather than focus on their audience. Please, keep in mind that sustained audience engagement produces a more fruitful transaction between you and them.
Lack of Pausing
Several public speakers habitually rush through their content. They speed down the track like a runaway train that’s out of control and can’t stop and make critical turns at the right junctures.
Different things can cause this issue, including anxiety, time constraints, or adrenalin. Regardless of what the cause is, consider taking a pause at these 3 times: before and after you make a crucial point that you want the audience to remember; before and after you change from one major talking point to the other; and between your talk’s opening, its main body, and its closing.
For instance, if you’re making a presentation on grilling, you can pause after mentioning “BBQ gloves” as they’re a fundamental part of the process and help avoid any accident.
With this guide, you can become a better speaker. As you prepare for a team talk, presentation, pay attention to the 5 habits to avoid on stage, which we have highlighted above. Effective public speaking is an art that requires practice, dedication, and patience. Lastly, by consciously using silence as a rhetorical tool, you’ll seem more self-confident, and your message will create a more profound impact. The resultant effect of all this is that your audience will remember more of your talk’s content and find your message impactful.