Very few are born as experienced, entertaining speakers. As a speaker, you want to inform your audience, make them laugh in the process and hope that they hang on your every word until the end. For some, it seems to come naturally. But that is not the case. Every experienced speaker has had as much stress and anxiety as you, including myself.
Everyone has had to prepare a speaking assignment for school at some point. I have always been very sociable and extroverted, but I preferred to avoid these speaking engagements. I really didn’t like doing it and often stumbled over my words. I would rather have been sick that day. Singing in front of a group, on the other hand, came naturally. As a small child, I used to perform for the whole family and have fun together with my cousins on the stage that my dad had built in our garden. It’s striking that there is such a difference between speaking and singing. One comes naturally and I’d rather avoid the other. I never really thought about it, but in my current job it is of course a crucial point. Where does this fear of speaking come from? As human beings, we are afraid of being laughed at, of being incompetent and of making mistakes. This is something that is punished from an early age. You can’t make mistakes because if you do, you get a bad report card, you get a comment from your teacher and maybe even your parents. We are judged by others based on these mistakes. But what if we embrace these mistakes? I’ll give you 4 tips to be more confident when reading your podcast or online course.
Start with an open mind
As speakers, we often put a lot of stress and pressure on ourselves because of the thought that our listeners will have certain prejudices or opinions. I mean that we often already start filling in what others will think about us. It is precisely these thoughts that are our pitfalls as speakers.
People connect with real people. It is nice when a speaker makes a mistake or admits it. If he tells about the struggles he has been through, well then I follow, then you have my attention. So you certainly don’t have to start your story all over again if you make a mistake or stumble over your words. Keep your naturalness and just go on with your story. Nothing is as annoying as a speaker who constantly interrupts his story to apologise. When speaking spontaneously, you don’t do that either.
Practice makes perfect
It is a myth that you are born an experienced speaker. It is true that some are less shy about speaking in front of a group of people, but that does not make them a good speaker. Record yourself often and judge yourself afterwards. You will learn a lot from yourself and gradually improve your skills as a speaker.
Most public figures have already had quite a bit of media training. Voice and pronunciation training is often part of it. So you certainly don’t have to do it all by yourself. We think it is normal for a top sportsman to be coached by a complete multidisciplinary team, but as a top speaker or singer it is more of a taboo. Break the taboo and let yourself be guided.
© Anouk De Vleeschhauwer. All rights reserved.