How To Make Your First Public Speaking Event A Success

By | October 13, 09

How To Make Your First Public Speaking Event A Success

Public speaking is a skill everyone should develop, because you never know when you might be called upon to speak to a group of people. Don’t think public speaking is only for professional speakers and so you don’t need to prepare for it, that’s not true because there are many instances when you might be required, even without prior notice, to speak to a crowd of people.

It could be your Pastor calling you up one Sunday service to say something to the Church. It could be at your child’s school PTA meeting, and you are asked to express your thought about something. It could even be at your work place, something happened and you are to address a board.

There are many other occasions where you might be asked to speak to a public without you knowing before hand you will be doing it. And if you haven’t been preparing, it could end up in disaster.

Developing public speaking skill can be very rewarding as you can make extra income from it. In addition to your major source of income, sharing your special knowledge and experience with people each week or month at conferences or seminars can greatly shoot up your income.

In fact, with information marketing industry pulling in billions of dollars annually, a lot of this money goes to public speakers, as public speaking is a big part of the industry. Many people are actually making full time income, running into six figures as public speakers.

Even if you don’t want to be a professional public speaker, you will still find that the ability to give excellent public presentations is a major success factor in many professions, and could determine how speedily you will advance in your career.

Seeing how important public speaking skill is to your success, let’s now see how you can make your very first public speaking engagement a success.

For most people, speaking to a group of people the first time can be very tough. In fact, they can give anything just to avoid it.

It has to do with the fear of been ridiculed. The fear of saying the wrong things, not saying them the right way, or forgetting your line and get laughed at. The fear of been regarded not good enough; the fear of failing to get the deal, because you could not captivate the audience to believe in your offer.

There is always this enormously strong fear of failure that grips one in their first time to speak to a public.

Deal With This Fear

The fear of speaking in public was also very real to me on my first major public speaking engagement. The organization I worked for had a free seminar, and over eight hundred people attended it. As part of the event program, I was to make an announcement, to inform the crowd about our upcoming events, what we do, how they could join our membership club, and so on.

Before then, I hadn’t spoken to a crowd that much in number and maturity. These were adults from different states, and walks of life. I had only spoken to a group of teenage students before in my days as a teacher – this was hugely different.

I didn’t want to disappoint my boss, who is almost a perfectionist, by saying the wrong things, or not delivering the message as I should, and so fail in my part to make the attendees rush to join our Club.

When it was time for me to come on the platform, I was so tensed up that it seemed my heart stopped beating, and my body frozen momentarily, as I heard my boss introducing me to the platform.

Good man that he was, he thought I might not be able to handle it, so he didn’t leave the platform after introducing me, he stood close to me as I began to read the announcement from a paper that I came with.

Then he gave me a booster! He whispered “well done”, into my ears as I read. Boy did that help? Sure it did. The fear that was choking my throat melted away.

I’m really thankful to him for helping me out that first time I had to speak to a “real public”. But you may not be lucky to have your boss standing close to you to help you kill that fear, and that means you just have to deal with it yourself.

Dealing with this fear, which is the only thing that stands between you and having a successful public speaking event, is to understand where it comes from, and put it in its place.

The fear, as I have stated before, is simply that you don’t want to fail. You are afraid you will say the wrong things, and so fail to achieve the purpose for which you were called upon to speak. You are afraid people will perceive you to be less intelligent or knowledgeable, and laugh at you.

Putting the fear in its right place

Everyone, including the audience you are speaking to has that fear too. If there should be an exchange of places, and each member of the audience was to come on the stage to speak to the public, they will even be more tensed than you are.

You may not know it, but even the people you regard as experts in public speaking today had this fear too when they were starting out.

My former boss, who I talked about earlier, once told us how he couldn’t comfortably speak to a group of teenage students when he, as the Chairman of his children’s school PTA, was asked to address the students.

According to him, he was practically shaking while reading a note he had prepared the previous night to them – he didn’t have the courage to speak to them without reading from a note.

But today, by working on his fears, and with repeated public speaking engagements, he has become an expert in public speaking, and has addressed people in many countries.

You mustn’t allow fear to stop you. Again, what you may not know is that most people in the audience want you to succeed. They understand how tensed anyone can be speaking to a public the first time.

You can start your opening remark by jokingly saying something like, “I’m sorry if I guff, but this is my first time speaking to a large audience as this, I hope you understand, it’s pretty hot here!” This kind of remark can immediately put the audience on your side, and they will encourage you on. And on your part, you would have just smashed your fear into pieces.

Having put fear away, I will now tell you some practical things you can do to make your first public speaking event a success.

Know your topic very well

As part of your preparation for the event, you have to study the topic you will be speaking on thoroughly, to the point that you could discourse it without reading from a paper. This will help you avoid the incidence of missing a line or two, or running short of what to say.

And very importantly, the audience will see it in you that you know what you are talking about. There is nothing as bad in public speaking as the speaker obviously showing he or she knew little about his or her topic.

Write down the key points of your presentation

If you are not using power point presentation, you should write on a piece of paper the points you want to speak on. This will enable you to take your presentation sequentially without missing anything.

Boost your confidently with your dressing

Put on the dress that normally gives you confidence. You can also wear perfume if that also makes you feel good. Reversing this, don’t wear any cloth you are not comfortable in.

Be yourself in your presentation

Don’t try to be like the last speaker who almost brought the roof down. You cannot be like them because you are different – you have your own style. Besides, that person may have been speaking publicly for years, with lots of experience.

Be yourself, and make your presentation your own way. What is really important in public speaking is not the method, or words you used, it’s your ability to clearly convey the message you have for your audience to them.

Don’t worry about getting a standing ovation from the crowd. This is only your first time, and that will be too early to happen. However, as you continue to have more public speaking engagements, you will get to understand what gets the crowd jumping off their seats, then you will have also joined the league of public speaking experts.

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