Most people have heard a public speaker before. Learning to speak in public can be a powerful skill.
WHAT IS PUBLIC SPEAKING?
Public speaking means speaking to an audience. This could be at school, at work, in a local council, or even at very important international events. Speeches can educate, entertain, or persuade an audience.
Giving a speech in public is an excellent way to share your opinion and make your voice heard. Great public speakers can be very powerful, and lead to huge changes in the world. Nelson Mandela is a very famous example. He gave many speeches against inequality in South Africa during apartheid.
DIFFICULTIES OF PUBLIC SPEAKING
Many people find public speaking uncomfortable or frightening. Some people will find that their voice shakes, their face goes red, or they speak too fast or too quietly. It is normal to feel like this.
Good public speakers learn to overcome this. With practice, public speaking can become as natural as speaking to your friends and family.
TIPS FOR PUBLIC SPEAKING:
- Posture. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and facing the audience, your shoulders down and your head up. This will help you to look and feel confident.
- Breathing. Make sure you take deep breaths that fill up your lungs. Use this air to project your voice. This means to make it loud and clear, so that everyone can hear what you are saying.
- Eye contact. Look at the audience, try to make eye contact with different people.
- Notes. Make sure you know what you will be speaking about. Practice it in advance. If you have notes, try to glance at them when needed, but keep your attention mostly on the audience.
- Content. Think about telling stories or asking questions to keep the audience interested and involved.
GREAT PUBLIC SPEAKERS
Many great public speakers are remembered in history.
Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania (then Tanganyika), made many famous speeches. He used his speeches to campaign for the country’s independence. For example, his Arusha Declaration about equality in 1967 is considered a hugely important speech in Africa’s history.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the president of Liberia from 2006-2018. She gave speeches about anti-corruption and women’s rights. As a result, she was named the 51st most powerful woman in the world in 2006 by Forbes (a globally famous American magazine), and she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
We can be inspired by successful public speakers. Whatever their views, they spread their opinions on what they think is important. By learning to speak confidently and successfully in public, we can give ourselves huge power.