Public Speaking - It need not be feared!

Have you ever had to speak in front of an audience (planned or on the spot) and all of a sudden, your mouth goes dry, palms get sweaty and butterflies invade your stomach?

While watching an old rerun of "Seinfeld" the other night, I couldn't help but chuckle when Jerry said, "According to most studies, the number one fear of human beings is speaking in public and the second one is death. This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy!"

Some people have a natural talent for public speaking, however most individuals are uncomfortable when asked to speak in front of an audience, deliver a presentation or make an impromptu comment in a meeting. But, whether you're speaking in front of 5 people or 500, or whether you have 5 minutes or 50 to present your message, we strongly believe that preparation is a critical component in delivering a professional and effective presentation. We suggest the following techniques in order to prepare yourself, build confidence and minimize the jitters in terms of speaking in front of an audience:

Audience: "Profile" your audience and tailor your presentation to those who have invested their time to listen. Ask yourself: What are the names, roles and background of the attendees and what is their familiarity with the topic on which you're speaking? (Are they experts or students?) What is the seating arrangement for the meeting? Will the audience be seated in a small conference room, large auditorium, or listening over the phone, etc?

Topic: When determining the content of your message, ask yourself: Why are you speaking on this particular subject and why should the audience listen to you? In other words, what's in it for them? Is your audience experiencing a loss of time, money, employee retention, and/or morale? Again, how can you structure your message so they take immediate interest and believe you can alleviate their pain (with your product, service or call to action)?

Content: As you prepare the "meat" of your presentation, ask yourself the following questions: What is your overall objective in presenting the information and what 1-4 key points do you want to communicate?(Less is more!) Consider the best delivery style to deliver your message: Does it warrant an in-person presentation or is a webinar more appropriate?

Practice: Once you've identified your audience and topic, and developed the content of your message, be sure to rehearse and time each part of your presentation with someone who will give feedback on your clarity, sequence, tone, pace, and body language. It's critical that your opening and closing sentences are clear, concise and spoken with conviction. (Remember, these are your first and lasting impressions with audience.)

Short Version: Lastly, be prepared to speak on the absolute "must-knows" of your presentation just in case you have less time to present than originally planned. Prepare professional handouts to distribute to the audience so they have the details of your presentation. (You'll also be glad you had them should your laptop/LCD projector malfunction)!

These tips may not eliminate your fear of public speaking, but if you incorporate even just one of our preparation techniques, you're sure to build your confidence and deliver an impactul presentation. Interested in more tips on improving your public speaking skills? Please download our White Paper entitled, "Public Speaking - It need not be feared."

Also, please share any tips that have proven successful for you in terms of improving your presentation skills and/or reducing anxiety. We'd love to hear your ideas.

~ Suzanne Alpert

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Ignite Monday, June 21, 2010 @ 9:55 AM   0 Comments


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Ignite offers a variety of transforming programs that can propel you and your organization to brilliant successes. And we have experience in a wide range of industries, so we can tailor each session to specifically address your needs and goals. To learn more please contact us.