Communications professor Matt Abrahams shares communication techniques and tips that can help you to feel more comfortable and confident when you are speaking, to think fast and talk smart.

85% of people say they fear speaking in public. And quite frankly, I think the other 15% are lying.

In his TED speech he highlights four key elements to consider when you are preparing for public speaking.

The approach we take

When we are in a situation where we have to communicate, we often see it as something threatening. We see these situations as opportunities for failure. But we need to change this. Why not approach communication in an open way? See it as an opportunity to share ideas, beliefs and innovations. When we adopt the approach of openness, suddenly something that we dread transforms into something that we can embrace. So, the first step towards effective communication is to approach it in an open way.

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The audience we talk to

Most people think about what they want to say. Professor Abrahams suggests that this is entirely wrong. The effective approach is to ask yourself what your audience needs to hear. And this is not just playing with words; this really makes a fundamental difference. The three things we need to learn about our listeners are: their knowledge; their expectations; their attitudes to the topic. So, the bottom line here is to appreciate your audience.

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The context in which we find ourselves

In addition, you have to appreciate the context in which you speak. Think about the time of day when you are going to speak to your audience; what information and emotion you will convey; what the location and environment will be like. All of these elements affect the audience and thus your communication.

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The structure of our messages

Information is 40% easier to assimilate and easier to remember if it is structured. So structure your message like a map that will give your audience expectations and prevent them from getting lost.

Some types of structures you can possibly use are a chronological structure, the ‘problem – solution – benefits’ structure or the ‘what – so what – now what’ structure.

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Watch this video to get all the important details and get inspiration for improving your communication skills.