Aidan Cassidy Lectures on Public Speaking Jitters, Jumbled Words, and Presentation

Aidan Cassidy, a civil servant and council member in a small town in North Carolina, has done his share of public speaking throughout his career. He was a law enforcement officer for two decades before becoming a well-deserved politician, and throughout both experiences he has developed a firm understanding of how speaking in public is a skill that is learned over time. Not only does this ability help politicians, good presentation skills carry over to the workplace and academia as well.

“The first thing you have to do to master public speaking is to understand your audience,” Aidan Cassidy says. “Why are they there? What do they want to hear? Why are you there? You need to ask yourself these questions in order to prepare a speech that is effective, remembered, and easy for you to give.”

The audience is everything for public speakers. Whether or not a person is a politician, a member of the clergy, a teacher, or a college student presenting a thesis in front of professors, knowing the audience is key. For starters, speakers have to redefine their audiences and come to understand that most people want the lecturer or presenter to succeed. This should help cut back on nerves, but more on pre-speech jitters later.

For now, Cassidy urges speakers to figure out their audience and shape their speeches around them. Not all presentations are friendly, however, but that does not mean presenters have to take out their own opinions, flow, and speaking style. Instead, it is the speaker’s goal to captivate and inform an audience in any way possible. It is not always necessary for every listener to agree, but it is important to have them at least listen, consider, and even potentially disregard the speech.

“You can’t shape public opinion with one speech,” civil servant Aidan Cassidy says. “You can, however, help influence their overall opinion of an idea or topic. It takes a combination of speeches, publications, and personal influences to change someone’s ways, so don’t worry about being the only thing separating an audience from an idea.”

 

Audience Engagement

When it comes to engaging an audience, speakers often invest in visual aids and multimedia. These, of course, depend on the venue and purpose of the speech. Slideshows are helpful to give the audience something to look at, though technology issues often come into play at the exact wrong time. When there are tech aids, presenters should make sure everything is working properly well before the speech is made.

Aidan Cassidy says it is also helpful to focus speaking to the one person in the room who is not listening. This is a common goal for performers looking to engage bored sections of a crowd, and the same applies to public speaking. This way, a speaker’s attention is not on the hundreds of eyes staring at him and her.

 

Pre-Speaking Nerves

Everyone, no matter how many speeches they have done, feels nerves before stepping in front of large crowds of people. “It’s often easiest to admit that you are nervous before giving a lecture or speech,” Aidan Cassidy says. “Even when you’re out there in front of the audience, it will put them at ease if you take your time in the beginning before launching into the main speech.”

Of course, the best way to reduce speaking jitters is to practice and then practice some more. Practicing a speech in front of a mirror, a friend, then a small group is a good way to start. Saying something aloud allows speakers to get a better grip on their speeches and will enable them to stare off the page and at the audience from time to time. This is important for engagement, too.

Practicing also helps speakers annunciate and articulate a speech’s message more efficiently. Are there garbled words and hard to say phrases? A bit of practice can cut down on the risks of getting tongue-tied. It also helps with pacing, another important element of public speaking.

“You want to keep your speech moving forward at all times,” Aidan Cassidy says. “If you have a time limit, shave down your speech to give you an extra minute or two because the timer in a practice setting is different than a live presentation. When you’re pacing yourself, try to keep a solid cadence and spend more time on important points so the audience picks up on them.”

 

Messaging

The most important element of any speech is what the audience takes away at the end. For politicians, their goal is often to shape public opinion or convince a group to vote one way or another. They have to go into a speech with that express goal in mind and support the idea through anecdotes, personal opinions, and other strategies. A wild, longwinded speech is a lot worse than a concise, punctual one. Stick to a few main points and reaffirm the speech’s goal at the end.

Other than practicing, Aidan Cassidy says the best speakers do a dry run in the venue. This allows them to test equipment, how the speech sounds talking into a microphone, and how loud they are. Testing out a speech in the actual room also calms down pre-speech nerves and gives speakers extra time to practice.

Before stepping up to a podium, public speakers need to understand that they will make mistakes. Whether it is a misread word or a skipped sentence, it is important to keep moving forward. Most audience members will not even recognize it as a mistake; they only do if the speaker takes the time to apologize for it. If it is a fact or exact statement, however, it is crucial to reread the sentence in order to portray the correct information.

Public speaking, as mentioned, is a skill learned over time and with experience. Pastors and ministers, politicians, public servants, and professors have to do it every day. All of them, including Aidan Cassidy, understand that it is human nature to be nervous before stepping under the spotlight.