Back To Basics: Three Fundamentals Of Public Speaking

You can spend a lifetime learning about public speaking. For the real enthusiast, entire books have been written about various aspects of communication skills.

But for the everyday person who simply wants to sound more credible when speaking, where should you begin? If time is short and you want to quickly develop your speaking skills, there’s some key areas everyone should start with.

After coaching hundreds of people to overcome anxiety and develop outstanding communication skills, I’ve narrowed this down to three fundamentals: the body, the voice and the mind.

It’s these three areas that we begin with in all our training courses and workshops. By focusing on these first-principles, you can quickly take your communication skills from zero-to-hero.

Public Speaking Fundamentals: Body Language

Before people ever hear your voice, they see your body.

It takes only 7 seconds for people to begin generating their first impression of you. So when speaking in public, it’s crucial we get those first 7 seconds right.

That means being able to consciously display what I call “winners’ body-language”. Winners’ body-language is the combination of warmth, power and enthusiasm that humans instinctively show when we’re feeling our best.

Watch an athlete win a race, or a celebrity accept an award, and you’ll see winners’ body-language happening in real time: head up high, arms outstretched, smiling with excitement.

We’ve all experienced feeling these things, and we’re all physically able to display this positive body-language. 

The problem is that when faced with a stressful situation like public speaking – we subconsciously start exhibiting the opposite: head down, arms closed, a look of nervous worry.

The trick is to break this habitual stress response. So that when we’re standing on stage and the nerves kick in, rather than automatically closing in, we instead open up. 

This pattern-change takes some training to instil. But over time it becomes a game-changer in terms building confidence through control of your body language behaviours.

Try to become more aware of your body-language by noticing how a stressful situations make you react. Do you start fidgeting? Look downwards, or furrow your brow?

It’s these responses you will need to change in order to look (and feel) more confident.

Ready to feel the joy of powerful
communication skills?

Join our next 1-Day
Public Speaking Masterclass

Public Speaking Fundamentals: Vocal Variety

It takes over 100 muscles for humans to articulate the spoken word. But unlike singers or performers – most speakers neglect to truly understand or utilize their voice.

The result?

We breath incorrectly and struggle to project our voice properly.
We get stuck in a monotone speaking style that puts everyone to sleep.
We lack the variety of tone, pitch and melody that makes a voice engaging to hear.
We become flustered, panicked, and start speaking too quickly; leading to more uhms, ahs, likes and filler-words. 

Each of these is what we call a credibility killer. They make us come across as unprepared, or unprofessional. 

The solution is learning to use the full scope of the intrument that is your voice. If you want to begin this process, the first step is simple: listen to your own voice! Seriously, record yourself speaking and listen back. Ask yourself honestly: do I sound enaging, intereting and confident?

If not, work out what’s letting you down, and begin there.

The voice is perhaps the most underlooked aspect of communication. By working on yours, you’ll quickly find yourself speaking with more credibility and charisma.

Public Speaking Fundamentals: Mindset Shifts for Confidence

A destructive mindset will do more damage to your ability to communicate than anything else. Yet how many people spend the days and weeks before a presentation ruminating on everything that could go wrong?

We waste energy worrying about how we’ll be judged by others:

Will I look confident?
Will I sound assertive?
Will people like me?

In other words… me, me, me! 

The best approach to overcoming this negative thinking is to completely flip the table. Instead of thinking about what you need from them (recognition, approval, applause), focus all of your attention on what you can give to them.

Understand that no matter what the occasion of your speech, it’s never really about you. Whether you’re speaking to entertain, to inform, to educate or to influence – it’s ultimately about your audience.

Shifting your mindset in this way allows you to take the pressure off yourself. Before your next speech, pitch or presentation, take time to think this through.

Ask yourself what your audience needs, and how you can give that to them. The more you focus on them, the less you’ll worry about you.

Public Speaking Fundamentals: The Practise

Ultimately all of the above only works when you do. That means applying these skills to your practise, and gaining real-life experience.

It’s not enough to read about body-language, learn about the voice, or mentally reframe things in your head. These are tools that must be put to work – tested and trained. 

The best piece of advice anyone can give you about improving your public speaking? Do more public speaking. Or as Aristotle said, “for the things we must learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”.

Now that youy understand the three fundamentals of confident communication; the body, the voice and the mind; it’s time to start using them in the field. 

If you’re looking for an opportunity to do so, check out our upcoming public speaking courses and training here.

Ready to feel the joy of powerful
communication skills?

Join our next 1-Day
Public Speaking Masterclass

Project Charisma provide expert training on public speaking, presenting and communication skills. We help professionals of all backgrounds to become more confident, credible and charismatic when speaking.

To overcome public speaking anxiety, develop leadership communication skills, or prepare for an upcoming speech, pitch or presentation, get in touch about 1-2-1 coaching options and group masterclasses.

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