As a candidate, you need to win votes. Although campaigning door-to-door and having personal conversations with voters is an effective means to win votes, you cannot, and should not, avoid public speaking opportunities. Indeed, these may be the most beneficial forum to prove why you are the best candidate for an elected position.
The best way to hone your public speaking skills is to do public speaking. The more you speak in public to audiences, the more comfortable you will feel over time. There are many opportunities to address a group, including community meetings, community council meetings, conferences, candidate forums, radio, social media and at special events. As a candidate, you should be actively looking for opportunities to speak to groups—even if the thought of doing so is scary.
Things to keep in mind:
- Make eye contact while speaking
- Speed of speech, pacing, etc
- Pause when you need to instead of using a filler such as, “um’s” or “ah’s”
- Make your hands visible – and use them with your body language
- Make sure your voice can be heard from the person farthest away from you
- Use a conversational tone
- Avoid sarcasm as it’s often misinterpreted
- Be brief to hold the attention of others
When running for any elected position, public speaking can be one of your greatest assets. It helps people to connect with you and what you stand for. The most powerful and persuasive public speakers come across as passionate and genuine so if you’re clear on your campaign and why people should elect you, be sure that your message doesn’t get muted by your fear of public speaking. Take advantage of any opportunity to get in front of people and the more you do it, the easier and more natural it will become over time.