EVER had that intense nervousness whenever you were required to speak before a huge crowd?
Since young, I have been no stranger to presenting myself on stage, be it for storytelling, public speaking or poetry recitation.
Here are five tips which I have found useful in helping me speak eloquently on stage.
1. Understand your text
Reading through and understanding your text or script not only help you distinguish the parts that need emphasising, but also allow you to determine what tone and body language you should use to grab the attention of your audience.
If you are telling a story, it helps to distinguish the parts where you need to show certain facial expressions and apply different intonations.
Storytelling sometimes requires you to portray both the role of the narrator and the characters within the story. The trick is to know how to switch between roles as the story unfolds.
2. Practise often
I used to work on my text with my parents and teachers all the time. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Adequate practice helps you to familiarise yourself with standing before a crowd and to overcome performance anxiety. You could record your performance using your phone or computer, and play it back to identify the parts where you need to do better.
It is recommended to have sufficient practice sessions with your teacher or someone you trust as there is a chance that you may overlook some mistakes that may be obvious to the audience.
3. Build self-confidence
Low self-confidence will cause you to easily stumble over your words, increase your nervousness and forget your lines during your presentation.
Build your confidence by practising your speech in front of the mirror, and then expand your audience to include your parents, friends, teachers and the weekly school assembly.
You could also imagine yourself delivering a speech before an audience to help you ease into it during the big day.
4. Learn to speak spontaneously
Being an eloquent speaker does not mean speaking only when you’re prepared; it also means using your words effectively to present your ideas to others.
Having a habit of reading comes in handy as your brain could generate relevant ideas to contribute to the discussion.
You could also gain information by watching the news, listening to the radio, browsing the Internet, or having daily conversations with your friends and family.
Seeking your teacher’s feedback on your speaking skills will help you gain improvement, as well.
5. Benefit from experience
If you falter in a competition, remember that it serves as an opportunity for you to reflect on your weaknesses and learn from others.
Experience allows you to see where your strengths and weaknesses are, and to identify what to enhance or avoid in the future.
With reflection and practice, you will soon get better at it. What matters most is the willingness to give yourself the chance to try again.
Weng Sam, 19, a student in Pahang, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team.