One of the language skills we develop aside from listening, reading, and writing is speaking. Speaking is a skill that naturally flows out pf listening, that is, the ability to distinguish sounds in an alphabet or a syllabary. Thus, speaking is a natural, fundamental human skill for expression and exposition. Yet no matter how natural we say speaking is, there is one type of speaking that everybody seems to get away with: public speaking. Classified as group communication, public speaking, as the name suggests, is speaking in front of a group of people for persuasive, informative, or expository purposes. It means stressing a point, asserting an idea so as to make audiences think, react, or do something.
From the oldest civilizations recorded down to the very present, public speaking has evolved into an art form, of giving life to words on paper that are meant to fulfill a communicative purpose, and perform those words where they can be heard by others. Public speaking, through the years of its development, became a tool for diplomacy, legislation, and activism. Probably one time or another, every organization on earth has used the tools that the art of public speaking provides. So much so that effective public speaking techniques have gone out of its usual setup, in the courtrooms, congress hall, and other public places, into the curricula of schools today. It must also be understood that any public speaking technique comprise only a part of public speaking.
After you have taken your place behind the podium, you feel sweaty in your palm, dry in your throat, nervous on the inside, and you simply want to hurry up after “hiding” behind the speaker’s stand. These are all natural feelings before one gets to speak in public. Even speakers who have been talking in public for a long time still encounter those nasty butterflies in the stomach before a speech. However, these speakers have learned ways to counter those “butterflies”, one of which is self-confidence. There is nothing like a sense of confidence once you have stepped behind the podium.
Self-confidence in public speaking begins in your mind. Different sets of thinking permeate and affect our ability to engage audiences with our art of public speaking. Most of the time, we think of ourselves as inadequate speakers. This type of thinking may stem from two things: either you lack knowledge on your topic or you don’t have the vocabulary and stock of words needed to express it. This is easily solved when you have prepared enough about your topic and mastered enough words in the language. There are also times, when we think that our audience does not like us. Give your audience the benefit of a doubt. Think about them being on your side. Think about them wanting to listen to you, that the art of public speaking does not end with you, buy circulates in your interaction with your audience.
When in front of your audience, maintain eye contact with them, provoke, challenge them, raise the volume of your voice, if you will, change your speaking pace, if you must. Then, watch them react as the art public speaking unfolds from your words.