Tricks of effective public speaking

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Stage fright is synonymous with the dreaded moment experienced by stage performers, including actors and singers.

Sowetan and Anglo American have entrusted the South African Model United Nations - a youth-led organisation that runs highly developmental public speaking programmes in tertiary education institutions and high schools - to hold workshops that are helping to nurture future inspirational, motivational and effective orators.

Thanks to the workshops - which have been preceding the provincial Anglo American and Sowetan Young Communicators Awards eliminations over the past 15 years - hundreds of young people have been empowered, equipped and encouraged to make public speaking a crucial part of their personal armoury.

Youths learn that when you're afraid, you become self-protective. You draw back into yourself. Your focus narrows to what is immediately around you, and all you can think about is survival.

Workshop facilitators tell the youths that people will laugh at you only if you do, or say something amusing.

Being nervous is only a problem if you are so nervous that you make the audience nervous. Don't call attention to your nervousness. Just go on with your speech.

To avoid forgetting your next point, make sure your main points flow logically from one to another. Make the connections really tight.

Before you blurt out: "I'll freeze!" you could bravely say: "You know, I've completely forgotten what I was going to say." Your audience will identify with you. They may laugh. Then you can laugh, and then some direly-needed oxygen will return to your brain, and begin thawing things out. Seven golden rules for more effective speaking

Public speaking guru Peter Urs Bender, who asserts that, whether we like it or not, at some point in our lifetime, we all have to speak in front of others.

Here he offers several tips to help the debutantes and to help make those who have already started on this path to become more powerful, memorable and successful.

l Don't read your speech. Write key points down on

note cards. Speak spontaneously and use the cards

as reminders;

l Have your hands visible to the audience. Keep them

out of your pockets, and use them to communicate;

l Wait three to five seconds before you begin, then speak more slowly than normal. While feeling uncomfortable, this helps you focus and makes you look and sound more powerful;

l Smile, smile, smile. An audience always reflects the


l Watch you listeners for their feedback. If their body language says "Borrring" do something different!