The same moment I got up on that small classroom podium at the Faculty of Law, I started sweating, my body temperature increased by what felt like five degrees Celsius and I was sure I'm going to faint. Just as I started speaking, dysphonia started to set in and my voice was slowly disappearing in the depths of my lungs. Those two years of acting lessons quickly vaporized outside of my system, and I was left alone with one of man's biggest fears - the fear of public embarrassment.
Somehow I managed to push through and finish my presentation on the new Anti-Smoking Law that had just passed the Parliament vote. With everybody still applauding I got down from the stage, sat down next to my dad who came to see me that day, and he looked at me and said: "Hey, good job, I'm proud of you."
WHAT?! "What are you proud of you silly man", I thought to myself. It turned out that I was pretty good on that stage, although I can still feel, almost seven years later, the burning sensation in my cheeks.
Nowadays I can speak easily in front of thousands or more people without even blinking, and my pulse barely goes over 60 bpm. What is my secret? To be completely honest - there is no secret. And anybody who tells you that there is a "secret" or "a trick" to public speaking is lying to you. Public speaking, my dear MUNers, is all about practice. It's like going to the gym, running or shooting a basketball - the more you do it, the better you get at it. It comes easier to some, and more difficult to others, but anyone can learn it. Just remember that every good training needs a methodology, and here are a few short advice and tips about what you should pay attention to when preparing your public speeches.
1. Know the subject you are talking about. Research, research, research! Diversify your sources. Improvisation is good, and sometimes necessary, but nothing can match good ol’ studying. You always have to presume that the people you are talking to know as much as you do on the subject, or more, so be sure to prepare well. Don’t come to the situation in which everybody is looking at you like a charlatan. Take the matter seriously and devote your time to it.
2. Practice in front of a mirror and use a stopwatch. This might sound funny to somebody, but practicing in front of a mirror is actually one of the most effective ways of exercising your posture, your face mimic and your body language. I personally had a problem with waving my hands around frantically like a New York native trying to hail a cab on Manhattan during working hours, and I managed to get it under control by watching myself in the mirror and practicing. A stopwatch will give you a good sense of how long your speech is, and that is very important when you have limited time for a presentation.
3. Every time you make a mistake, start from the beginning. This is, maybe, the most frustrating part of practicing, and in the beginning you will hate yourself, the subject, your neighbour for breathing too loud three floors above you and the whole world in general. But this is one of the best ways for you to determine what the weak parts in your presentation are, so you can rewrite or modify them to better fit your oral and demonstrative skills.
4. Use the wording and terminology you are familiar with. Don’t try to appear smart by using words and expressions you don’t even know how to pronounce, let alone explain their meaning to people. Use the language you’re comfortable with and that comes natural to you.
5. Less is more. The best presentations and lectures I’ve ever witnessed were by people who managed to explain as much as possible with the least possible amount of words and time used. Don’t bore people with over pretentious demonstrations of your knowledge, but rather present to them in a short and concise way the message you want to transmit.
6. Try the speech out in front of someone you know. It’s easier to try in front of someone you know well – a friend, family member, colleague or a professor. This can be your final test and it’s a good stress release before you get up on that podium and blow away the masses with your expertise and oratory skills.
and get ‘em! Remember what we said in the beginning – public speaking is just
practice. If you did all of the above mentioned, and practiced enough, there is
no doubt that you will excel in your presentation. And don’t worry if you still
have stage-fright, or fear that public humiliation, it’s perfectly normal and
it all goes away once you hear them clapping afterwards.
Now that you're an awesome public speaker, what else to do than attend an MUN? Here's a great guide on becoming a great Model UN Delegate!
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