You too can be a good speaker

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Three previous winners of the Anglo American and Sowetan Young Communicators Awards (YCA) have conquered shyness, nervousness and other features of stage fright.

Thembi Losi, Asanda Shabangu and Tumelo Sibanda are now at university and have been roped in to support the work of the Model United Nations South Africa. This is a youth-run organisation that is conducting public speaking workshops and competitions for both university students and high school pupils, including YCAparticipants.

If you wish to emulate Losi, Shabangu, Sibanda and the other 42 youths who took the top three spots in the YCA over the past 15 years, simply ask yourself these questions:

l Why would I be boring?

l Why would people laugh at me?

l Would people see how nervous I am?

l Would I forget my points?

l And, or will I freeze before uttering the first word, sentence or paragraph?

If you are not boring in real life, you will not be boring as a speaker. Control your nervousness and your natural liveliness, creativity, spontaneity and humour will surface.

If you do or say something that will amuse the audience, they will laugh, and when you laugh with them, they will love you. Make laughter the antidote of fear.

So what if the audience see how nervous you are? It is natural and people expect you to be nervous. Problems arise when your nervousness makes the audience nervous.

If you forget the next point, remember that many other speakers before you forgot and after you, will forget too. There are lots of strategies to compensate for this - suchy as giving yourself half a chance to remember exactly what you were going to say next, backing up and trying again and referring to your notes. Above all else, practise, practise and practise more.

Lastly, if you freeze, say something, anything, because the longer you stay silent - trying to remember exactly what you had planned to say - the more stressed you will become.