Sunday, February 05, 2006

Feel the Fear . . . And Speak Up!

Fear of public speaking is No. 1. Death is No. 4. So most people would rather get a root canal and pay their taxes than speak in front of an audience!
Ask yourself,

“Wouldn’t it be great to be able to stand in front of an audience of hundreds of people and hold them in complete captivation?”

“Wouldn’t it be great to feel confident and assured the day you’re scheduled to speak before your company’s executives, an association, or a local civic group?”

“Wouldn’t it be great to go into a presentation confident that the attendees are going to love you, be surrounded by their applause, and overhear comments afterwards, such as, “He was excellent,” or, “She made a real connection with her audience”?

Here are some tips to build your confidence in front of others. I have never met an audience that did not want the speaker to succeed.

1. Prepare! Prepare! Prepare! Preparation helps reduce your jitters. Please do not read your speech. Instead, use some notes on 3x5 index cards. Be confident that you know your material. Because you do!

2. Memorize only the opening and closing of your speech. If you try to memorize your entire speech you will be too focused on yourself and fearful that you may forget something. Just continue the conversation, make your points and use illustrations/stories to highlight your information.

3. Remember to breathe from your stomach before you begin . . . and keep breathing. Deep breaths will keep your vocal chords relaxed and keep you from trembling. Then no one will know you are nervous.

4. Deliver your speech as you would engage in a conversation with someone. Make eye contact with different members of the audience. When you land on one person’s eyes, everyone in the audience will feel as if you are speaking to them also. This is called CONNECTION.

5. Present your content with lots of examples and personal stories, mixed with humor and some interactive exercises for your audience. Get them involved. This will heighten their interest and retention of your message. Relax and have some fun. Your audience will too!

6. Here is an old adage to follow: Tell ‘em. what you’re gonna tell ‘em.(Opening) Tell ‘em. (Body of speech) Tell ‘em what you told them. (Closing)

7. Stop on time, no matter what. Don’t deliver everything you know on your topic – just highlight 3 to 5 points in your speech. Save time at the end for audience questions. And hang around after your speech to answer some individual questions.


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