12 Steps to Confident Public Speaking
Remember that time in the pub when you were thrilled to be asked by your old school pal to honour him by being his Best Man? Come the day however even though your wit is usually brilliant, and in spite of all the prep and practice, you became a nervous wreck with trembling arms, a dry stammering mouth and a sweaty glow, as you longed for Mr Scotty to beam you up to a distant planet.
Alternatively, perhaps you’re anticipating an award but know your acceptance speech will result in the lectern having grip marks in the veneer or, worse still, maybe you’re asked to deliver a short eulogy at a colleague’s funeral and would rather be in the coffin instead.
Fear of the spotlight
Yep, public speaking can be one of life’s dingbats alright. You can be a brilliant doctor, author, brave explorer, battle hardy soldier or genius scientist, yet you can’t muster the courage to stand up in front of a handful of friends or colleagues for 5 minutes. The embarrassment of it.
We’ve all heard the survey that public speaking ranks highly up there as more fearful than death. Well, the fear isn’t wholly about public speaking, it’s about any situation where you become an unwelcome focus for the attention and scrutiny of others.
Career development benefits
How do you transition from stage-shocked actor to a crowd pleasing performer? Many business people find their phobia of public speaking a huge hindrance to their Personal Development and promotion. We are often in awe of the politicians who can take the hardest questions from an interviewer and speak fluently and eloquently devoid of nerves. Actually, it’s not magic, it all comes with knowing a few trade secrets and there are some easy fixes to rapidly improve your speaking and presentation expertise here.
1. Prepare your body. Eat some healthy protein. Dopamine and other hormones help brain function and are derived from tyrosine, an amino acid found in proteins. Get some meat, chicken, fish, or Quorn in your stomach 3 to 4 hours before the event. (try Quorn if you want a healthy and tasty meat alternative – Quorn meat free mince and chicken style pieces I think are excellent : )
2. Work out. Take a brisk walk an hour beforehand if you can, or visit the gym preceding a presentation. It helps burn off the Cortisol secreted by your adrenal glands when you’re anxious or stressed. That will give your mind clearer focus.
3. Rehearse it. Be sure to rehearse enough to be confident so you’ll leave a good impression, but not too much that your presentation sounds stiff (you’ll probably panic too if it doesn’t go by the numbers).
4. Flight-check it. Try and get to the presentation room/stage ahead of time to practice if it’s possible. As a minimum check the microphone and projector work properly and run through your presentation with a colleague to ensure its viewer-friendly (font size readable, easy colour scheme etc.)
5. “Unaccustomed as I am…” Never open with an excuse: “I haven’t really prepared for this” will not engender any sympathy.
6. Big beginnings. Start your speech or presentation with a strong opener that will grab people’s attention, such as a fascinating fact, interesting story or a good joke.
7. Back up. What’s your biggest fail fear? Projector burn out? PowerPoint failure? Have a backup (hard copies), or have a shorter version of your speech in your pocket in case you run out of time.
8. Don’t read your slides. They’re only there to emphasize your points, and believe me, the audience can scan them 10 times faster than you can read them.
9. Slow…..it…….down. You may be desperate to get it over with, but breathe deep before you deliver and take it slow. (Remember The King’s Speech?)
10. Be chatty. Don’t read your speech verbatim, just use notes as memory joggers to give you an easy, conversational tone.
11. Crib notes. So who cares if you read off a crib sheet? No one. It’s the security blanket of public speaking, no shame, especially for the novice.
12. Sales pitch pressure? Anticipate possible questions by rehearsing with colleagues or friends.
Public speaking is not easy and it takes time to hone your skills. Keep practising and don’t turn down those confidence-building speaking opportunities to help you develop and you will reach your goal.
Hypnotherapy help available
If you feel you need some extra help with confidence issues, low self-esteem, stuttering, shyness and blushing, nerves, phobias and anxiety, I can help you with hypnotherapy and a range of interventions that will really help, so contact me.
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