Speech pathologist, Martha Payne offers an exclusive insight into how people can overcome speech problems by following these seven techniques
Do you have speech problems or the fear of speaking in public? Well, you aren’t alone. Many people suffer from performance anxiety whenever they are presented with the challenge of standing on a podium or starting conversations with new people. This phobia can even become intense to the point of causing panic attacks. If you are like most people, you avoid public embarrassment by avoiding public speaking altogether. That isn’t the right approach to this problem as the more you avoid speaking in public, the more the problem exacerbates to become chronic and disruptive. Don’t be tricked into retreating to your comfort zone.
Try out these 7 techniques for overcoming speech problems:
Most people are anxious about speaking in public because of the fear that they can don’t command enough knowledge about the topic in hand. They fear that someone in the audience will ask a tough question that they aren’t sufficiently equipped to answer. You can fix this problem by preparing thoroughly and gaining enough confidence in your ability to deliver optimally on the topic. Ensure that you rehearse and research far and wide. Time your rehearsal presentations to ensure that your presentation fits within your limited stage time.
Another confidence boost is ensuring that you don’t just memorize words. Understand every concept of the presentation to ensure that you won’t get lost during your delivery. Memorizing word for word is risky because you can forget some words or in some extreme cases, something might interfere with your line of thought and disrupt your flow. Just remember the key points and the key subtopics and fill in the rest during the presentation.
Primarily, rushing means talking fast without caring whether your points are clear or not, or without caring much about your body language. When you talk fast, your breathing patterns change and you start experiencing shortness and shallowness of breath. Sometimes you might run out of air or be forced to hold your breath abruptly. This isn’t a good sign because people will notice your restlessness and probably start analyzing you as a person instead of focusing on what you have to say. If you lose connection with your audience, they seem unfriendly and that increases your anxiety.
Practice voice control
There are many unique speech plans that you can leverage if you wish to practice voice control. At the end of the practice, you will have learned how to breathe through the diaphragm as opposed to the chest. “Diaphragmatic breathing is an invaluable technique for any public performer, including singers, pastors, and public speakers. It allows you to hold notes and voice for a prolonged duration without running out of breath. You will sound fabulous all through the presentation, no matter how long.” say, experts of speech therapy, Speechaim.
Engage the Audience
The trick here is to make your presentation a 2-way interaction as opposed to creating a monologue. The challenge of having a monologue is that you will carry the burden of educating the audience and entertaining them all by yourself. Unless you are a comedian, reducing audience boredom when giving a monologue is almost impossible. Two-way interaction, on the other hand, allows you to ask questions and to engage the audience in order to keep them active. Giving them a minute to discuss amongst themselves allows you to take a breather, during which time you can reorganize your thoughts.
Work on your body language
Your body language conveys almost as much information as the words you speak, if not more. Don’t let your anxiety show through your face or standing posture. Be aware of your hands positioning, standing posture, facial expressions, and stage movements.
Don’t try to “fight” your fear
Hiding your anxiety makes it even more obvious to the audience. Just get it all in and stay in the moment. Quit reminding yourself that you don’t deserve to be on that stage. Don’t keep checking if they are noticing how anxious you are.
Stage presence is key
Be present and show enough enthusiasm and energy towards the topic in discussion. Let everyone in the auditorium feel your presence. Smile freely without forcing anything. Flow naturally and show everyone that you enjoy being there.
Developing strong public speaking skills is important both in your personal life and in your career. it reduces your anxiety and boosts your confidence significantly, which is necessary for success in almost every aspect of life. Maybe you don’t talk much in public, but you can never be sure that the need to speak in front of a huge crowd will never arise. You better be ready than sorry.