Enrol Yourself in Public Speaking ClassesJust like with everything else, even the art of public speaking can be learned. There are several organisations dedicated to helping people conquer this fear and express themselves with confidence in front of others. One such organisation is Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organisation aimed at helping members improve their communication, public speaking, and leadership skills. The organisation has authorised chapters in India, too, with the Mumbai chapter meeting every Sunday morning to work on their public speaking skills. The only way to learn is to actually get out there and do it, so push yourself to do it a few times. Once you start seeing your efforts translate into an improvement in your public speaking ability, you won’t want to stop.
Learn from Comics at Open MicsComedy open mics are events where newcomers to the world of comedy share the stage alongside more experienced hands to try and make the audience laugh. It’s also where many comedians test their new material to see whether it works or not. As such, open mics are notorious for being place for comics to “bomb” (fail to draw any laughs) on stage. As an audience member, there’s a lot you can learn about handling public humiliation from a comic. One simple tip is to see how the comics handle the public rejection of their ideas and words with good humour. Most of them will come back several times over before the set they’ve prepared is ready and able to make the audience laugh. If nothing else, it will show you that perseverance is key to success.
Try Your Hand at Improv ComedySo maybe stand-up comedy isn’t your thing, but that doesn’t mean your tryst with the performance arts must end. Improv comedy is gaining popularity across India and many find it to be the perfect avenue to work on their confidence and public speaking skills. Improv comedy, or improvisational comedy, involves coming up with a skit based on cues taken on the spot from audience members. Improv comics ask the audience for cues on who they’re supposed to be, where they’re supposed to be and what the situation is, and then they go on to perform a small skit based on these cues. It's an excellent platform to challenge yourself to think on your feet and is a fun way to prepare yourself for the boardroom. There are improv workshops happening in most major Indian cities and those are the best places to start.
Start Small by Volunteering to Speak at Work MeetingsWe know what you’re thinking – ‘easier said than done’, right? But not all meetings are created equal; there will always be some meetings at work which are attended by a small number of people and may not be of vital importance. Use meetings like these as your training ground and make your voice heard from time to time. It’s all about baby steps when you’re trying to overcome a phobia. One of the best ways to build your confidence in your own speaking abilities is to just get out there and do it more often. You’re probably much better at it than you give yourself credit for.
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