5 Steps to Confident Public Speaking
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” – John Wooden
Seven out of ten people surveyed said they would rather die than speak in public, according to Eileen Shenker. Shenker has been a professional public speaker for thirty years. She has developed several workshops to coach and train sales/customer service professionals to build rapport and relationships to increase sales.
At a recent workshop in Tucson, Shenker shared tips for overcoming the fear and discomfort that often accompanies speaking in public. She shared advice for speaking to large groups, incorporating naturalness and humor, overcoming nerves, and more. Here are the top takeaways from Shenker’s enlightening performance.
1. Think “I’m excited!” Imagine that someone you adore, who you have not seen in a very long time, will be knocking on your door any moment. How do you feel? You may have sweaty palms, a racing heart, closed throat, and sick stomach. Notice that excitement can elicit the same physical feelings as fear. Shenker explains that those butterflies are just energy. The goal is to channel the energy and “make the butterflies fly in formation.” Next time you stand up to speak in front of others, think “I’m excited” – not “I’m afraid.”
Useful fear fighters:
Preparation: Use index cards, visual aids, and know when to pause. Memorize the first thirty seconds of the presentation. You should be so prepared that you can give the presentation without cues.
Visualization: Picture the presentation going the way you want it to go.
Affirmation: Affirmations trick the brain into thinking something is a fact. Create an affirmation that works for you, such as “I am a charismatic presenter that people enjoy listening to.”
2. Know your purpose. Answer this question: “What or how do I want my audience to feel, think, act, be, or do differently because they’ve spent time with me?” This is your purpose. Once you know what you want your audience to get from what you give, you will know how to tailor your message and reach the goal.
3. Weave a thread. The three elements of a presentation include: an opening, body, and closing. In the opening, the goal is to make an impact. Tell the audience why your presentation is important to them. Engage them immediately by starting with a personal story or referencing a dramatic event.
The body of the presentation should consist of stories and connections, which will help the audience remember your main points. Shenker says to “be passionate and present, not perfect.”
There are several options to bring the point home: summarize, call to action, ask the audience to share what they learned, or get creative with an interactive game.
4. Share your best energy. Dazzle the audience with your best delivery. Shenker says a presentation is a conversation, just bigger. Use eye contact, a conversational tone, projected voice, and bigger gestures than you would in an intimate conversation.
5. Know your audience. Know the theme of the event, the setup of the room, and your audience’s age range, gender, backgrounds and level of expertise on your topic.
Remember the following:
• You are sharing not evaluating. You are sharing information, passion and skill.
• Think communication, not performance. It is always about your audience—not you!
• Finally, think caring not judging. The audience is rooting for you. They want the experience to be enjoyable and valuable; therefore the audience does not want to see you fail.
When preparing to speak in public, remember these main points to feel more at ease. It’s all about the perception of how the presentation will go. If you envision the talk going successfully, it will be.
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