Public Affection: How to learn to love public speaking

The words “love” and “public speaking” don’t typically find themselves in the same sentence.

Public speaking ranks as the second most feared thing for people, second only to death and you’d be hard pressed to find a person who loves the idea of speaking in front of a crowd, with most people being terrified, while others will tolerate it.

So how do you learn to love public speaking?

For starters, you don’t have to love it but you can make your peace with the notion that you want to fall somewhere between being good at it and competent as well. This opens up doors professionally, so when the next meeting or presentation comes to the table you can jump on it and take the lead.

Public speaking, from those who do it best, will tell you that preparation is paramount, but also tips of the trade that work well to integrate into what you’re already doing.

Nerves specifically are what tend to do us in as far as how we prepare but then present. Experts agree that your nerves can be addressed within a few minutes as you resist the urge to jump right into your speech. Instead, you should review your notes, make good eye contact and then begin so that the first words out of your mouth aren’t riddled with nerves and crackling speech. Part of handling nerves also means controlling how quickly you speak, as most good public speakers are ones who speak slowly and tend not to rush their words.

One thing about being nervous that can be a hindrance but you can turn into a positive is eye contact or lack there of. If you are timid, you’ll look down and not engage the audience, you’ll lose their interest. The key to eye contact isn’t so much to scan the area, but learn to focus on a section of the audience, stay there and talking to them as part of the speech. The scanning the room attitude seems forced, and the audience picks up on the phoniness of it.

Finally, your speech should stick to the facts and not turn into a look at me or sales pitch. If you’re talking, make sure the discussion is relatable to the audience and you’re not pandering for approval.

While you may never fall head over heels for public speaking, you can make it your own and be more than just average at something that potentially could have greatness written all over it.