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When it’s time to give a speech, do you tremble with abject fear? Do you break out in a cold sweat?

Getting terrified and tongue-tied is not a fun experience.

It’s OK to be nervous before giving a speech in public or speaking in a meeting at work. Feeling pressure is one thing but allowing it to morph into stress and tension is another.

The good news is you use stage fright to your advantage, if you learn to train yourself to stop stressing.

Becoming a great speaker requires studying best practices, identifying your speaking errors, rehearsing new-learned techniques, being tenacious, and leveraging your passion.

You can become a great speaker with just eight steps:

1. Get a snapshot of how you appear in giving a speech. You can get feedback from others, which can help. But the best way is to record yourself giving a speech to see how you look and sound.

You don’t have a video camera? No problem, even a smartphone will work to show you how you speak.

2. Identify and analyze what you’re doing wrong. Watch and listen very carefully for your possible verbal shortcomings.

The most-annoying speakers often do two things: They frequently say “ah,” “uh,” “er,” an “um”; and their voices trail off at the end of their sentences.

Eliminate all filler words and make sure you project every word when speaking.

These are signs they’re at a loss for words when either asked questions, when making a presentation, or in a staff meeting. If this is you, it is possible to become great at thinking on your feet.

Becoming a great speaker requires studying best practices, identifying your speaking errors, rehearsing new-learned techniques, being tenacious, and leveraging your passion.

3. Watch your body position. AKA, that’s body language. Do you fidget, show you’re nervous or appear to be defensive?

Erectly stand. Don’t cross your arms. Keep your arms open and use hand gestures to emphasize points.

4. Check to see if it’s fun to listen to you. Inexperienced or insecure speakers often talk in a high pitch, through their throat or nasally without using their diaphragm.

For a quick study, make a sound of agreement with “mmhm.” That’s probably the right pitch for you as a speaker.

Moreover, if they were effective in their breathing and strengthened their diaphragms, they’d have authoritative resonance by speaking from the diaphragm.

5. See if you’re talking at the right speed. If you talk too fast, your diction will be muddled. So speak more slowly. Your rate of speaking will differ from other speakers.

Learn your ideal speed by practicing. Continue to tape and listen to yourself. Your rate of speaking depends on how fast or slow you talk without making errors — slurring words and stammering.

Do this, you’ll immediately get points as having above-average intelligence.                   

6. Use the tool of silence. That’s right, silence. Have you ever noticed why some people succeed as powerful public speakers? One salient reason is they know how to use the power of pauses.

So give your audience members a chance to think about important points and hold their attention by maximizing your speaking with the power of pauses.

7. Speak, but don’t continuously ramble. Remember, it’s not what you say but how you say it.

Visualize your speech text. Where did you insert punctuation? Don’t just talk. Pause at phrases where you inserted commas. And pause at the end of the appropriate sentences.

8. Bring your best game with passion. Be passionate. Where appropriate, use enthusiasm with confidence.

Avoid ending your sentences in an upward pitch — as though you’re asking a question — unless you intend to ask questions of your audience. Ending a sentence in a higher pitch shows a lack of confidence.

Conversely, avoid being a boring speaker — don’t talk in a monotone style. Listeners prefer a variation in a speaker’s inflection.

From the Coach’s Corner, related content:

How to Get More Opportunities as a Guest Speaker — If you’re successful in generating speaking opportunities, you’ll create opportunities for your career. At the least, you’ll be in a position to raise your business profile. Ideally, prospective clients or customers will be in the audience. Count on opportunities to develop centers of influence — people who can refer business to you. 

9 Tips to Connect with People after You Make Your Speech — Typically, in making a speech at a public forum, businesspeople hope to get a return on their investment. After all, giving a great speech or serving on a panel before a targeted audience necessitates your valuable time and effort in preparation. 

How to Obtain the Most Profit from Speaking Opportunities — It’s one thing to be invited to speak at your industry’s major event. But it’s another to create the right impression for your hosts, your audience and prospective customers or clients. There’s more to it than you might think. 

Public Speaking Tips – for Speeches in Accepting Awards, Honors — So you’re about to be honored for your pro bono work, volunteerism, or for creating a foundation to fund scholarships for education. But you get stage fright or don’t know how to most-effectively frame your acceptance speech? Join the crowd. A lot of people have difficulty in public speaking. 

Acting, Speaking Coach: How to Improve Communication with Others — Do you know when you marginalize others?   If you’re having communication problems with someone important in your career or life, chances are one or both of you will profit from tips in honest communication. This is also true if you want to get a job.

“I had used eclectic therapy and behavior therapy on myself at the age of 19 to get over my fear of public speaking and of approaching young women in public.”

-Albert Ellis


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.