Did you know that one of the biggest fears to exist is the fear of public speaking? Although the title of this article is “Improve Your Speaking Ability” I am not limiting the tips to people who speak on stages or deliver TED talks. These tips apply to literally any situation which calls for you to vocalize your thoughts and engage in a conversation. You do not have to be someone who is engaging an audience, for these to serve you, although they will help in that situation too.
I have taken 5 of the biggest things I have learned and noticed in life and in my time of developing my speaking ability and compiled them in this article, not in order of importance.
This may seem like an obvious tip, but I have found it to be the most challenging. It is easy to be in a conversation, especially during virtual meetings, and begin to think about the million things I need to get done, what I’m eating for lunch, and what my next meeting is. It is vital that you remain present at all times when you are in a conversation or speaking. As soon as you recognize your mind is drifting, bring yourself back to the current moment.
If you have a particularly difficult time, perform an exercise such as snapping your fingers to trigger your body into focus. This is an example of state management. With practice, it will get easier. I have heard from other renowned speakers that having a strong smell, taste (such as a mint), or chant (mantra) serves as a form of state management as well. I’ve used this when I am about to be interviewed but am tired. I will, off-camera of course, make a loud yell imitating the sound I'd make if I got into a cold shower, This instantly raises my vibration.
Study other speakers
In most cases, other people have already had the success you are looking for and have done the things you’re wanting to do. Compile a list of people you know are exceptional at speaking. This may include athletes, celebrities, politicians, professors, and yes, public speakers. Pay attention to their physical movements. You may come to notice they wave their arms or move their hands to keep the audience engaged. Others might have a tendency of pacing in an authoritative way. Through study, you will pick up on more “quirks” if you will, but oftentimes they serve a purpose.
Remember that these public figures didn’t get into their situation overnight. It took months, years, and even decades of practice and repetition.
Read and continue developing your vocabulary
I would highly recommend reading nonfiction books (a good fiction novel is great, don’t get me wrong). Through reading, you are able to develop your grammar skills and vocabulary.
Just like you have to hold yourself accountable when you find yourself being out of the
present moment, begin to recognize if you say certain “filler” words and phrases. Examples of these are “you know”, “like”, and “yeah”. There is a time and place to use these, it's a matter of knowing how and when. Eliminating these from sentences helps you poise yourself in conversation and command the attention and respect you need.
Imagine replacing certain words in speech with more advanced linguistics. It isn’t about looking like the smartest person in the room, but it gives you more options and keeps you from sounding repetitive.
Don't obsess over the little things
I remember when I started my first podcast in 2018, I would obsess over every “Uhm”, stutter, silence, and background noise in every episode. I was a perfectionist that spent an obnoxious amount of time editing my audios. I eventually came to realize that the only person who was noticing these things, was myself.
We are always our biggest critics.
By no means am I saying that it is okay to publish garbage, but give yourself a little leniency in speech. That slight pause might actually enforce your previous statement by the way.
Do more of it
Improving your speaking ability will largely boil down to the amount of it you do. Combining the 4 other tips mentioned with your own practices, and proper execution will lead you to become so much better at speaking. By having more conversations, delivering more speeches, recording more podcasts, and so on and so forth, you will naturally develop an awareness of how you sound and an understanding of how others are perceiving you.
For the audio training that is associated with this article, please check out episode 96 of Chase the Vision with Isaac Mashman.
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This article was originally published on isaacmashman.com