Understanding the Art of Eloquence: Nine Do’s and Don’ts of Public Speaking
We’ve all experienced stage fright and can likely relate to Eminem’s song Lose Yourself: “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy” (I hope you didn’t have the same sweater problem like he did in the song). In many ways, eloquent speaking has a lot in common with rapping. It is not as outwardly rhythmical – not that it lacks rhythm – and you don’t get a beat to cover your mistakes, make you more colourful and keep your rhythm steady.
Talent is one thing when it comes to public speech but people tend to forget it is a skill more than anything else. A lot of people don’t even allow themselves to visualize a situation where they are addressing a crowd for fear of exposure. Still, being able to hold an audience’s attention is a much desired skill for professional situations as well as personal social situations. Here are a few don’ts which you can avoid in order to help you boost your public speaking skills and conquer your fear of the stage!
1. They don’t rush things
When panic strikes, everything speeds up. Your heart rate goes up, you start shaking, a million thoughts go through your head, and you start to talk faster than usual without being aware of it. By being aware of the jitters that they experience before going on stage, professional speakers deliberately slow down to avoid blabbering, stuttering and losing their flow.
2. They don’t allow negative thoughts to control them
Overthinking is a very common problem these days, and you can easily spiral into a self-induced state of panic if you let your mind wander. Focus only on the reasons why and the possibilities how you are going to succeed in your endeavor instead of the reasons why you might fail. Visualize the whole thing as a sports match and set yourself into that winning mentality. This “I can do this” attitude may seem tacky, but it works and can help you channel that excess energy you get when panicking.
3. They don’t take the approach of a salesperson
Depending on personal preference, you can attempt to be entertaining, charming, interesting, or inspirational but never allow yourself to get into a situation where you come off as someone who is attempting to make money from the people you are addressing.
4. They don’t avoid eye contact
According to Forbes, avoiding making eye contact is one of the worst body language mistakes you can make. It is only the polite thing to do and it helps you establish a better connection with your audience. After all, this is a dialogue between you and your audience, and you need to establish this dialogue.
5. They don’t focus on negative people in the crowd
Draw your energy from those in the audience who are saying “Yes” instead of “No”. Focus on those who are supporting you instead of worrying about those who disapprove.
6. They don’t forget about their accent
Acknowledge your accent by making a slow-paced introduction in order to let your audience adjust to it. Your audience needs a bit of time to make the adjustment, so don’t rush things.
7. They don’t forget to breathe
Stress can cause our body to tense up and our muscles to contract, causing us to forget to breathe. When speaking in front of a crowd, take a moment to catch your breath and compose yourself before you start talking.
8. They don’t focus on repetitive motions
Repetitive motions like foot tapping, hand and fingers cracking, and similar automatic movements are some of those nifty tricks our body uses to get us ready for those fight or flight situations. However, they are absolutely useless to us in public speaking situations and only make us feel more under pressure.
9. They don’t miss the tone of the subject matter
Don’t drag humor where it has no place and strive to show respect to serious things. On the other hand, if your goal is to inspire people, rise to the excitement level contained in the words you are vocalizing.
In conclusion, public speaking is not an innate talent but a skill that can be developed with practice. By avoiding the don’ts of public speaking, we can conquer our fear of the stage and master the art of eloquence. Remember, you have control of the situation, so take your time, breathe, and channel your nerves in a positive way. With practice and perseverance, you can become an eloquent speaker who can hold an audience’s attention and inspire others.