Say it out!
The fear of public speaking has been listed as one of the world’s top three fears, and in most situations hitting number one.
Hence, overcoming this fear is one of the four main elements that we focus on in our DIODE Leadership Camps.
For starters, let me share a tip on how you can overcome this terrifying fear. Notwithstanding the fact that it is a fear that grips the heart of even the mightiest, the tip is to find every opportunity to exercise those public speaking muscles because, as cliché as it might sound, practice makes perfect!
So here’s a simple way you may begin. Almost anybody of any public speaking level could do this.
I use a technique called intentional scripting. I, for one, found this extremely hard to do. But when I actually did it, I found myself improving day-by-day as my speeches become more effective.
As the name suggests, you will need to find a script. When I started this, I printed out the speech of our first prime minister when he announced the independence of our country back in 1957, just for the drama.
We cover a total of seven techniques in our DIODE Leadership Camps, but for the purposes of this article let’s focus briefly on three – speed, volume and gestures.
Speed is usually added for effects and to create a sense of excitement. If you read through a sentence quickly, you may generate a sense of urgency and energy that is required to capture the attention of your audience, while reading it slowly generates a sense of importance – a sense that something needs to be heard and understood.
It is recommended that you slow down during important parts of your speech to allow information to sink in.
A play of volume is used to emphasise certain words. Saying a word loudly may indicate that it is important for everyone to hear.
Sometimes using volume can help you capture attention. Speaking softly at some parts makes your audience lean in, trying to catch the word you are saying, hence getting their attention.
Imagine a scale of 1 to 10 (see Figure 1), 1 being a whisper and 10 being shouting. A normal conversation is usually around 3–4 while a public speaking voice is usually 6–7.
Word-emphasising volume is usually around 8–9 while 9–10 is reaching shouting and screaming, which can be very annoying if used throughout a speech.
The biggest mistake people do with gestures is to keep using the same ones for everything. A tip for this technique is to look for action words or verbs and convert them into gestures.
For instance, “hear” can be signaling to your ear as a gesture, “turn” can be a turning gesture of your hands, and “look” can be signaling to your eyes and then pointing to a direction.
Putting them all together, the idea is to intentionally programme your script with the three abovementioned techniques with the symbols (see Table 1). Then, practise in front of the mirror following the script and the symbols.
Once you have practised it five times without mistake, do it in front of an audience. A vast majority of professional speakers use this technique to ensure that their speech is properly planned and that everything is intentional (see Figure 2).
So good luck and all the best in overcoming your fear of public speaking. Do join us at DIODE as we explore the remaining four techniques in becoming great leaders for tomorrow. For more information, visit www.diodecamps.com
Marcus Lim is a part of the youth division of Leaderonomics and he is excited by new ideas, concepts and challenges. Being a practitioner of the art of movement, parkour, he believes in building confidence and self-awareness through physical representations and movements of the body. If you are interested in developing yourself as a young leader, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.leaderonomics.org/youth/leaderonomics-club. For more Starting Young articles, click here.