[su_dropcap style=”flat”]O[/su_dropcap]VER THE YEARS, many researches have concluded that fear of public speech, glossophobia, is among the top stressors. Evolutionary biology has associated the fear with hormonal response—the release of adrenaline—when brain perceives a danger and directs small structure on the top of kidneys, known as adrenal glands, to release it enzymes, that sharps sense and provides a temporary energy thrust to confront situations, commonly known as Fight-or-Flight response. Though the response helped humans for millions of years to withstand predators and compete for limited resources, it has a downside in the present times. It usually encourages one to run away from a difficult scenario, rather than fight. The manifestation of this fear has become a huge problem in the population, and it also has great implication when it comes to professional life; it has proved to be an impediment for many among us, as it directly influences professional growth.
In a professional environment, public speaking is among the most valued skills. The objectives of public speaking are leadership and personality development, business development, persuasion, motivation, customer service, and large-group communication. Many studies have concluded that business development and public speech skill go hand-in-hand. It is relatively easy for an effective speaker to win new businesses, and in the process develop loyal followers, who actively advertise a business through mouth-to-mouth publicity. However, for many of us, public speaking has proved to be an intractable problem, with no definitive solution.
To give a budding entrepreneur a starting point, this article lists and discusses the key elements, peddled by many successful public speakers, and how these can be utilized to build a small business. Academic researchers have structured a way to go about it. Like one needs to follow some rules while writing a news report, it too has a small rule: who is saying what to whom using what medium with what effects. Let’s discuss these elements comprehensively:
Management of phobia (contingency plan, exercise, and visualization): The combining effect of adrenaline and cortisol, two major stress hormones, limits one’s ability to process information and creativity, which confuses the person and makes it pretty difficult for him or her to read and react to audience. The best way to regulate these hormones is to have a brief workout session before giving a speech. This increases the heartbeat, which in turn releases dopamine, a hormone that suppresses anxiety. The other ways to contain panic during a speech include having a contingency plan and visualization. The visualization technique involves the speaker practicing the speech in his or her mind, so that the person can visualize the structure of the speech and could able to take a cue from it while addressing audience. In many speeches, a glitch, technical or others, can trigger a spiral that will collapse even the best of speeches; therefore, it is advised to anticipate glitches and make contingency plans to deal with such situations.
Audience: One of the most important factors that affect a speech is the understanding of audience. There are two questions that a speaker needs to acknowledge: who are the audience, and what qualities they posses? To distinguish general audience from the target audience in a group is useful to structure the speech. Moreover, effectiveness of the speech is influenced by the age, gender, qualification, and intellectual wherewithal, including other qualities, of the gathering. Once a speaker resolves these two questions, he or she can decide whether to have a formal approach or an informal one; it will give him/her a good chance to articulate an effective speeches.
Structure of speech: Speeches are divided into three main units: introduction, body and conclusion. Introduction in a speech sets the pace and is critical as it casts the first impression, which in itself is a field to master for an entrepreneur. The introduction must include a brief glimpse of the main points to be discussed in the body section to pique the interest of the audience. It gives the speaker an opportunity to establish his or her credibility. It has been established that humor and interesting facts set the stage for a great speech. The main points in the body part should be grouped together intelligently and logically, overlapping over each other to create a smooth transition. Repetition is an important part of a speech, as it allows ideas one wants to propagate to stick in audience’s mind, and this should be done in conclusion of a speech, summarizing the main points.
Body Language: While delivering a speech, a significant amount of communication occurs through body language. The misalignment between speech and demeanor profoundly limits the effect of a speech. The keys to excellent body language are eye contact, hand movements, and whole body movement on stage. Eye contact is the holy grail of public speech, it captures the attention of listeners and enhances a message one wants to convey. Holding notes in hand exposes one’s anxiety and lack of confidence which adversely affects credibility, an important factor while making a sales speech. Open hands or forward gesture can be used to indicate topics or transition, and also to hint of acceptance, recognition, and approval. Where and how a speaker stands are major aspects, too. Standing erect, with legs six to 11 inches apart, is a proper posture, say many speech veterans. Standing at lectern the whole time is inappropriate.
Personal Touch: Sharing an anecdote, capturing genuine emotions are potent tools to have a long lasting connection with listeners. Don’t feel embarrassed to share your low-point or failures; however, make sure to append it with steps you had taken to get out of those circumstances. This technique humanizes the talk and lets listeners to be open to your ideas. A personal story can be a great starting point, before moving to the points a speaker wants to convey to listeners. Sometimes, a speaker has to respond to the emotional state of the audience and intensify it, while suppressing his or her own personal emotional state.
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