Is public speaking actually important?
Many students wonder how important it is to be a good public speaker once they plan to pursue law as a career. The truth is that public speaking becomes a big part of every law student’s life once they start pursuing their journey of making a mark in the legal space.
Arguing in courtrooms, negotiating with clients, and briefing a party play a significant role in every lawyer’s life. Hence, co-curricular activities like moot court competitions, client counselling competitions, parliamentary debates, and paper presentations, etc. also become relevant and majorly involve public speaking.
However, not many law students are very comfortable when they realize they’ll have to indulge in public speaking in their law school journey. They feel anxious and get extremely nervous with the thought of public speaking. Many law students avoid these co-curricular activities and public speaking roles because of this reason. However, public speaking shouldn’t be considered a chore, rather, it serves as a vital step in ensuring rewarding ends for a law professional.
Becoming a good public speaker isn’t tough, and we’re here to help you lose your fear of public speaking. Given below are some of the useful tips for overcoming anxiety and nervousness to become a better public speaker!
1. Accept Your Fear
Acceptance of fear is the first step in overcoming it. This may sound like you’re self-sabotaging, but it isn’t. Accepting your fear will allow you to stop living in denial and take a step in a positive direction.
2. Don’t Be Intimidated By Others
People only brag about their success, not failures.
So you should know that you only know of their wins, and not losses. Hence, feeling unworthy or demotivated will not serve you well because you’re basing a feeling about yourself on half-knowledge.
3. Don’t Copy Others
Failure is a part of success, and every successful person has had his/her own set of failures. A great public speaker may share the same fear as you in the past. However, this doesn’t mean you should apply their strategies and techniques to overcome the fear blindly to yourself- everyone’s feelings and fear are different. What worked for someone else may not work for you.
Now that you know what mindset to follow before you begin embracing public speaking and overcoming your fear, there are a few technical points you can keep in mind to become better at public speaking:
4. Organize Your Thoughts and Be Well Prepared
Organize your thoughts by framing a general structure of what you’re going to say when. Also, be sure of what you are going to say- make sure to fact check and know your content well. Being well researched and prepared serves as a big confidence booster!
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5. Find Your Focus Point
People afraid of public speaking find it tough to maintain eye contact with the audience and usually fumble or lose track of their thoughts if they catch a specific individual’s eye in the audience.
Hence it’s best that you look at a centre point across the room and not look at the members of the audience directly. If you’re in a virtual meeting, look past your laptop and to a neutral point on your desk.
6. Pause If Required
It is common to forget a point in a speech. This can easily happen if public speaking intimidates you.
To overcome this issue you must understand that you need to blurt out all your thoughts at once. Also, if you pause, the audience will understand and process what you are saying. Pause, speak slowly, explain your thoughts with depth, imagine as if you’re engaging with an imaginary person in front of you. Remember, quality over quantity.
The wisest saying of all- ‘Practice Makes One Perfect’ is applicable everywhere- and here too!
Practice public speaking as much as you can- in front of parents, siblings, and friends. Use a timer to track the time, avoid rambling, and try to be more engaged in the session. You can also speak in front of a mirror. This way you can view your posture, your expression and allow you to assess yourself and your confidence building.
8. Set Specific and Realistic Goals
Success doesn’t happen overnight.
Set small and realistic goals for yourself. For example, set a goal to remain calm and not fumble for the first one minute of your speech, or to maintain a calm posture and not be fidgety during public speaking. It’s best to set small realistic goals at first because once you begin accomplishing these small goals, your public speaking skills will start improving, and you’ll feel more confident.
9. Seek Help
Get in touch with good public speakers – if not professionals, people in your community and university also work. Listen to them, practice in front of them, accept criticism, and take tips when required. You can also look at these free resources on how to become a better speaker:
10. Use Simple Language
You don’t need to complicate things for yourself. Engage with a language you are well acquainted with and can easily relate with. Know that an audience also prefers simple language they can easily understand as well.
Fear of public speaking is common and many go through it. Feeling anxious and nervous is normal and you’re not alone in this journey. However, in the legal field, it is imperative to overcome this fear. Hence, keep these tips in handy to overcome your fear and push your law career in a positive direction!
About the Author: Anjali Baskar is from School of Law, Christ University. Her interests in law include public policy, ADR/ODR, criminal law, IPR/Entertainment law, etc.