Effective Public Speaking

NLP techniques

Our top tips for public speaking

Anxiety and public speaking

What is effective public speaking? It makes no difference if you call it public speaking or making a speech: it is the number one fear on the planet

I could never make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it.

Mark Twain

The thought of speaking in front of a collection of people is capable of reducing grown, strong muscly men into nervous wrecks. 

You may be sure, however, that you will not get through life without making one so it’s a good idea to learn effective public speaking.

The importance of public speaking - many more speakers

In order to respond to modern life, many more of us become public speakers.

It may be that you will never represent your employer, your business or any other organisation. 

It may be that you will never represent your employer, your business or any other organisation. 

You might, however, have to think how you are going to persuade someone to finance you or back you. 

Perhaps it has occurred to you to teach. Even if you don’t do any of those things, or win a prize and have to make an acceptance speech, there will always be a retirement ceremony, making a speech at a wedding or merely giving thanks on some unexpected occasion.

Wrong focus

At times of public speaking we tend to think too much about ourselves and too little about our audience. 

Maybe you are a little shy, perhaps consider yourself to be introverted and have a weak voice. Maybe you are wrong

Have you considered that? If you are wrong about that, what else might you be wrong about in life? 

Like every other skill in life, effective public speaking means practising making a speech, practising public speaking. 

That is what fills us with dread, isn’t it: the idea of making fools of ourselves in public.

Bad pictures

Before we ever get to the stage where we are going to make the speech, we start by making pictures inside our head about what is going to happen. 

If you are unused to public speaking do you make a large bright picture inside your head seeing yourself filled with enthusiasm making a wonderful speech while the whole audience applauds? I bet you don’t.  But why not?

Fear of failing

It is because you have a fear of failing, a fear of looking silly in front of others, when all the time the others really want you to succeed at effective public speaking.

Do you succeed at everything else you do first time? Probably sometimes but I daresay not all the time. 

At times like this remember the baby who can only crawl. 

Does he think: “I’d better not try to walk because I might fall over?” 

If that were so there would be millions of people on this planet crawling everywhere. 

Yes, I know; that does sound silly but it is the logical conclusion of that premise.

Be a baby again

The baby tries to walk and then falls over and bangs his head: “That was very painful; I’m not going to do that again!” 

Of course he doesn’t and neither did you when you were a baby. You keep on trying until you can walk. Oh, to be that baby again!

Observing the good ones …

There are different types of public speaking. Many years ago I worked in the courts. 

I had the privilege of watching some of the best advocates there were. 

They had the art of effective public speaking down. They made it look so easy. 

They spoke beautifully. It all looked so natural. They seemed to be on top of everything they were doing. 

They had the facts of their cases at their fingertips and their presentations and cross-examination were amazing.

... and the bad

I also saw some pretty poor advocates. They couldn’t seem to string two or three words together without umming and aahing all the way through. 

When the judge asked them a question about their case they struggled to find the answer. 

Their speeches were all over the place and their cross-examination ragged. 

They were definitely not effective at public speaking. 

Sometimes you didn’t know where they were heading or why they were doing so

If they won their case it was just because the opponent was even worse. 

But they survived and year in and year out they carried on representing their clients in court.

Speaking to one who knew

I fancied doing that. I really fancied it. I thought perhaps I wouldn’t be as good as those at the top, but I felt sure I could be as bad as those at the bottom. 

Because of my work in the courts, I had got to know a few advocates.

I got in touch with Alan Tyrrell QC, a well-known and respected barrister who practised not only in the criminal courts but also in the European Court of Justice. 

He was a man for whom I had the greatest respect. I had witnessed his rise through the profession and seen how his forensic skill had improved year upon year.

Effective Public Speaking - Good advice

I remember saying to Alan all those years ago that I didn’t have any doubt that I could cope with the drafting and the written side of the work, but I was more than a little anxious about effective public speaking – about standing on my feet in open court and trying to present a case in public. 

His words resonated with me then and still do today: “Barry”, he said to me, none of us knows until we try.

Those words were so true. I have since presented hundreds of cases in court. 

It is like anything else: the more you do, the better you get at it. 

I’m now pretty effective at public speaking. Of course I have made myself look a twerp in court on some occasions – just like my opponents do – but I’ve just laughed along with the others and got on with it.

The secret of effective public speaking

I also know why some of the advocates were so good and others so bad. I know their secret. I know the secret of effective public speaking

The good ones prepare … and prepare … and prepare. 

They rehearsed the facts of their cases until they knew them backwards. 

They bothered to research the law in advance so they were not caught by surprise.  

They thought about their presentation of the case and the course their cross-examination would take. 

The bad ones did none of those things.

The good ones prepare

The good advocates are at court very early, talking the case over with their client, seeing their witnesses, checking last minute detail. 

The poor ones rush through the door of the court minutes before the judge comes into court. 

And when the judge does come through the door of the court they inevitably have an explanation that their train was late, or their car broke down, or there was an accident on the road, and might they have a short adjournment to speak to their client. 

They know who they are. Everyone else knows who they are. 

They don’t  prepare. They bumble along. They usually lose.

Thinking of others when practising effective public speaking

Another important thing that being a lawyer teaches you is that you are in court to represent your client who is relying upon you. 

Take the same approach to any speech that you make. 

Think about your audienceDeflect attention away from yourself mentally. 

Your audience has come to hear you speak, maybe to be entertained.

If you know in advance that you are expected to speak, think about it. Make a few notes. 

Draft the whole thing out if it makes you feel more confident. But consider what your audience would like to hear.

Preparation for effective public speaking

When you are called upon to speak, take a couple of deep breaths and breathe out slowly. 

When you stand up, stand firmly and imagine your feet are bolted to the floor. 

Don’t shuffle around. Project your voice and speak confidently. You will be amazed what you can do if you try and how easily you can master effective public speaking.

There is much in these pages that will assist you in your ambition to be an effective public speaker.  Start by reading some of these and see where it leads you:

  1. The Importance of Public Speaking
  2. Learn NLP
  3. The Secret Law of Attraction
  4. How I conquered my fear
  5. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt
  6. NLP techniques for dissolving fear, mental blocks and hesitation
  7. NLP Anchors
  8. NLP and Hypnosis
  9. NLP techniques for changing beliefs
  10. NLP techniques for stammering
  11. NLP techniques for modelling
  12. Building your self-image
  13. NLP techniques - states
  14. NLP techniques - changing states

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