Before joining Toastmasters, public speaking was never something I thought could do. My social anxiety and fear of public speaking prevented me from even imagining myself talking in front of more than 2 people.
But after a few years in Toastmasters, I was able to transform my public speaking anxiety into something uplifting and empowering.
In the past few years, as I’ve practiced and grown my abilities, it became a much more enjoyable experience for me. I enjoy sharing my story, talking to people about myself and the most important things I know.
The process of evolving from a shy person who dreaded public speaking into someone who enjoys it has been an incredible journey.
I believe it’s by developing a unique public speaking style that I’ve been able to overcome my anxiety, enjoy talking in front of people, and truly make the most out of the experience.
What is your Unique Public Speaking Style? The first time you step on stage can be an intimidating experience. You might have tightness in your chest. Your mouth might feel dry. You might feel sweaty or queasy.
With all these potential symptoms, based on my experience, I think a big part of overcoming them is developing a unique public speaking style that helps you feel confident and comfortable talking in front of people.
1. Build Your Self-Awareness
People with self-awareness have the ability to see themselves through other people’s eyes. They can blend in with the crowd, they’re able to adjust and be comfortable while still being unique.
If you haven’t developed your self-awareness enough, it should be the first thing you work on improving. It promotes confidence, self-esteem, and most importantly — a unique public speaking style.
One thing that I wish I did earlier in my public speaking journey is watching the recording of my speeches. Doing that allows you to find your strengths and weaknesses. I watched the recording of a few of my speeches before doing my 10th speech. I was appalled by what I saw.
I looked like a robot, repeating the speech that I had learned by heart, without any gestures or vocal variety.
I knew that I needed to make a change. I practice a lot for my 10th speech. I recorded myself practicing, I adjusted my gestures. I added a lot more vocal variety to make it more interesting. I improved my self-awareness. That was the beginning of my unique public speaking style.
2. Personal Stories — Storytelling
The human mind can think at least 10 times faster than it can hear. That means that for 90% of the time you are talking to a group, their minds have time to wander. To keep them engaged, they need to be quickly engaged in the story. People like stories because they’re easy to relate to.
When you tell a story in front of people, they get the opportunity to get to know your personality. By telling personal stories, you’ll be able to connect with the audience and let them get to know you, thus making them want to listen.
In my 10th speech, I talk about my struggle with depression. It was my first time talking about it, it was not easy, but I receive so much positive feedback from people who listen to my speech. I realized then that vulnerability is a great way to connect with an audience.
The most important thing that has helped me enjoy doing speeches was the inclusion of humor in my speeches. People love to laugh. It might not be easy to find our own personal style, but once you’re able to find it, people will enjoy listening to your speeches. Humor doesn’t just add value to the speech, it also adds value to your image as a speaker. My style of humor is sarcastic and self-deprecating. When you are able to make fun of yourself, it makes you more relatable to your audience.
The audience is the most influential person in the room. They are your mentors, your friends, and the people that you’re going to meet after you finish your speech. By addressing them, you’ll be able to create a connection with them. Think about what the people in the audience want to hear.
They want to be entertained. They want value. It’s not about you. It’s about how you can help them. Think about what you can share about your story that could help them. How you can help them be better at their lives.
By helping and connecting with the audience, they will feel motivated, engaged, and inspired by you. Give your audience something that is worth their time. Tell your stories in the most compelling way.
Enjoying yourself is important to have a unique public speaking style. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t put much effort and time into practicing. Don’t worry about what people think. You are the only person that can decide what’s good for you. It’s okay to not feel like doing speeches at first, it’s only part of the process to build your confidence.
It was a lot of trial and error, but I finally found my unique public speaking style. I know that everyone’s unique public speaking style is different, but the most important thing is to find what works for you. It will take time, but it’s fun. Separating yourself from the crowd is not easy at first, but once you realize that you have your own personal style that sets you apart from others, it makes it a lot easier to overcome any obstacle along the way.
Winning a public speaking contest was never something I thought I could do, but having develop my own public speaking style definitely helped with this accomplishment.
Remember that all of us will experience being nervous before a speech. It’s not because you’re bad or because there’s something wrong with you. It’s just a normal feeling to have when you step into the spotlight.
Keep practicing your speeches and by going through the steps above, you will be able to practice publicly without feeling nervous. There are no shortcuts to public speaking. It takes a lot of practice to get good at it. It’s going to be hard, but you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you do your first speech in front of an audience. You’ll build your confidence and self-awareness, which will help you improve in the future.