Sunday, May 18, 2008

ON SPEAKING LIKE A PRO

Here are some tips to reduce speech anxiety that I have gleaned from working with professional speakers over the last 24 years. Visualize your success at the lectern. 'When you visualize your success, you will be successful.' Arrive early and become familiar with the room in which you will give your presentation. Check the audio/visual equipment as needed. Greet your audience as they arrive in the room. Then the group will not feel like strangers to you. Practice, Practice, Practice your speech beforehand. Remember, it is about them, not you. So harness your nervousness and focus your enthusiasm, your attention, and your message on the audience.

The Coach is reminded . . . 'Those who fail to prepare are preparing to fail.'




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1 Comments:

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Terry said...

Sandra,

Thanks for the tips! Excuse my long-winded reply, but it seems in-line with your post.

Here are my 9 suggestions to feel more comfortable in front of an audience.

1. As the days and weeks lead up to your presentation, practice creative visualization. Fear stems from the unconscious repetitive thoughts and feelings about failing. The key to successful visualizations is simultaneously feeling positive emotions attached to images that you see. Imagine the room in which you will present. Feel the empowering sense that this could be your break-through moment. This could be when you reach to a higher level than you ever thought possible. Imagine yourself now in front of the audience facing them, looking calmly and intently into their faces. Take a big breath and feel relaxation welling-up within you. Imagine giving the EXACT kind of presentation you want – however that looks, sounds and feels to you. When you are done imagining yourself delivering your presentation, hear in your mind’s ear the enthusiastic applause of your audience. See faces that are pleased, moved and touched by what you’ve done. See others seeking you out, shaking your hand, congratulating you on your performance. For as long as possible, keep experiencing that feeling of triumphal success. Repeat this process as many times as possible.
2. About 5 – 10 minutes before your presentations, use this breathing technique: with your mouth closed, count out 4 seconds in your mind during each measured, controlled inhalation and exhalation through your nostrils. Then slow it down even further to a 6, 8, or 10 count. That will help to soothe your entire nervous system, slow your heart rate, and lower your blood pressure. You will feel much calmer, your thinking will be much more lucid, and you will be able to communicate your ideas much more clearly in moments of stress.
3. Start with a personal story. Stories help you get into the “zone” of presenting. You are intimately familiar with the material and it’s easy to be more animated with an energetic, expressive voice, movement and gestures when telling a story.
4. Many clients prefer conversation to “presentation.” If so, start with an interactive opening. Ask the audience a question, preferably an open-ended one (who, what, where, when, why, how). Call on them by name. Engage them by expressing genuine curiosity in their ideas and thoughts. Your scary and silent audience can be quickly transformed into an informal gathering, sharing their ideas and perspective.
5. Change your paradigm about the sensation you are labeling as fear or anxiety. Instead of labeling is as “fear,” think of it as energy, which you can channel into your presentation.
6. Strong movement, gestures and an expressive, energetic voice which will command more attention and project more confidence and charisma. 80 – 90% of the presenters that I observe do not expend enough energy. Hence, they come across as uninvolved, uninteresting, and unenthusiastic.
7. Sustain eye contact with individual members of your audience. You will project confidence and trustworthiness and your presentation will feel more like an informal conversation.
8. Get up in front of groups often. There is no substitute for experience. As the experience grows more familiar, your fears will lessen. You may eventually find that you relish the chance to present.
9. Don’t give up. As American writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

Thanks again

 

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