Public speaking is considered the #1 fear for many Americans. In the world, it is likely within the top five or ten. This reality is pretty alarming. Believe me; I know it is not easy, and I completely understand how this activity can cause significant anxiety. I know of many people who cringe at the thought of addressing a large audience. Through these posts, I'd like to help relieve some of that anxiety...
I have gone from rigidly avoiding speaking opportunities to giving multiple speeches to audiences ranging from 15 to well over 100. Also, a few years ago I was President of an organization—known as New York Toastmasters—whose sole purpose is to help develop better communicators. I do not consider myself to be an "expert" (whatever that means), but I have grown exponentially. I will help you do the same with concrete tips while keeping the fluff to a minimum. :)
As previously stated, I am a huge advocate of using video cameras. You can easily use your phone or one that comes with your computer. No need to get super fancy here. I have helped multiple people to become more proficient speakers, and this is something I always recommend. The three most important reasons for this suggestion are as follows: the camera has no emotions, you get to notice the minor details, and you can watch yourself grow. Below I will explain these points a little further:
1. The Video Camera Has No Emotions- You will notice that using the camera can be extremely challenging. This difficulty stems from the fact that the camera is physically incapable of giving you reassurance, or "feedback," on whether you are doing well or not. At this point, technology is not advanced to the point where a camera can laugh or provide honest facial expressions (at least I hope not)! Further, recording yourself takes you out of your comfort zone. Start small by recording yourself twice a week, giving two-minute talks, about anything you want. The next point will explain why this is critical.
2. You Notice Minor Details- I firmly believe that anyone can give a great speech. With the right amount of practice and encouragement, giving a speech can become relatively easy. However, it is the minor details that set you apart from your competition. Do you repeat words often? Do you fidget with your hands at times? These actions are almost impossible to catch without the help of a coach or dedicated friend (one who is hyper-vigilant and can spot this stuff). With a video camera, you can become your personal critic and point out all of the areas that seem shaky to you! Sounds fun, doesn't it?
3. Watch Yourself Grow- One of the major secrets of public speaking is confidence. Recording yourself speak is an excellent way to build confidence by acting as a witness to your progress over time. If you use a video camera on a consistent basis—and critique yourself—you will note considerable improvement. Admittedly, this is one tool that has led to much of my success in communication and presenting; I have a database of recorded speeches that I can draw from at any time to see what needs polishing.
Finally, this suggestion is not mandatory for you to become an exceptional speaker. You will find that there are many other helpful strategies out there. I will share more as time goes on.
Feel free to drop me a note if you ever have any questions or need advice. Good luck!