The Public Speaking Tips YOU need

By Nadia Mia

… and from the most unusual sources: Comedians!

With all the free time MCO has offered, I found a new favourite pastime: Watching stand-up comedy on YouTube. I find comedians somewhat amazing when it comes to public speaking. In the span of two minutes, they manage to deliver some of the funniest stories and entertain large audiences, all without cue cards or a pre-prepared PowerPoint presentation!

There’s definitely a thing or two (or more!) we can learn from these funny guys when it comes to public speaking. After all, that’s essentially what stand-up comedy is – speaking in front of a large crowd.

Why do you need good public speaking skills? Like it or not, public speaking can play a significant part in your overall success whether at work or personal life. It can make you more influential at work, improve your communication skills, develop your fluency in speaking, and it boosts your skills in critical thinking.

Which is why we decided to ask the pros themselves by interviewing Malaysia’s very own stand-up comedian Rizal van Geyzel for tips on how to ace your public speaking skills. Rizal has been making crowds laugh since 2010, and runs and performs at Malaysia’s very first dedicated comedy club, The Crackhouse Comedy Club KL. Here are his tips.

1. Know your stuff
When asked where his ideas come from, Rizal says, “Life in general… Not to sound generic but ideas could come from literally anywhere.” Which makes things easy to remember because these points are your own and you’ll be more enthusiastic about sharing them. As a result, when you’re speaking to an audience, there is a sense of connection to your material, making you more confident and excited about your topic… and your audience will be as excited and captivated too.

2. Nerves are good; it keeps you focused
Public speaking anxiety affects many of us, to some extent. The biggest fear is making a mistake in front of your audience. But the butterflies in your stomach can actually help you – it’s one way your body helps you do your best as the adrenaline helps you focus better.

Rizal’s suggestions on how to deal with the nerves? “Breathe in deep” before your presentation. “The more oxygen goes to the brain, the less likely you will ‘blank’ on stage.”

3. Loosen Up
Says Rizal, to stay confident when performing he “always remembers how much fun this is.” And to prepare himself, he has a ritual: “I take deep breaths and do a bit of dancing to loosen up.”

So relax! Don’t get all knotted in a ball of anxiety. Do some easy stretching exercises before your big show: Start at your toes, work your way up to your thighs, arms, stomach, chest, shoulders and forehead, one at a time.

4. Practice Makes Perfect
Did you know Serena Williams trains up to five hours daily? And an eighth-grader spelling bee champion studies specifically for the competition for months! The saying may be an old cliché, but practice really does make perfect!

Rizal couldn’t agree more. “Practice makes perfect, and by that, I mean, get up in front of crowds as much as you can. Even when it’s bad, there is always something to learn.”

5. Be Comfortable with Your Role
Successful comedians clearly understand their role as a performer, and they embrace it. If you’re naturally funny, include humour in your speeches. If you’re typically a serious person, go ahead and project it. Don’t switch up your personality because chances are, your audience can tell you’re faking it and won’t be impressed. “Be yourself as much as you can. I think people value honesty a lot in a performer,” says Rizal.

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