It doesn’t matter how far you get in your professional career, the idea of speaking in front of your peers and managers can reduce even the hardiest CEO to utter terror. There’s no way around it though, to succeed in business, public speaking is a hill that must be overcome. Don’t worry though, public speaking is absolutely a skill that can be taught. Just follow these simple tips and whether presenting to 5 people or 500, you’ll soon be acing it with minimal fuss.
1. Nervousness Is Normal. Practice and Prepare!
All people feel some physiological reactions like pounding hearts and trembling hands. Do not associate these feelings with the sense that you will perform poorly or make a fool of yourself. Some nerves are good. The adrenaline rush that makes you sweat also makes you more alert and ready to give your best performance.
The best way to overcome anxiety is to prepare, prepare, and prepare some more. Take the time to go over your notes several times. Once you have become comfortable with the material, practice—a lot. Videotape yourself, or get a friend to critique your performance.
2. Know Your Audience. Your Speech Is About Them, Not You.
Before you begin to craft your message, consider who the message is intended for. Learn as much about your listeners as you can. This will help you determine your choice of words, level of information, organization pattern, and motivational statement.
3. Organize Your Material in the Most Effective Manner to Attain Your Purpose.
Create the framework for your speech. Write down the topic, general purpose, specific purpose, central idea, and main points. Make sure to grab the audience’s attention in the first 30 seconds.
4. Watch for Feedback and Adapt to It.
Keep the focus on the audience. Gauge their reactions, adjust your message, and stay flexible. Delivering a canned speech will guarantee that you lose the attention of or confuse even the most devoted listeners.
5. Let Your Personality Come Through.
Be yourself, don’t become a talking head—in any type of communication. You will establish better credibility if your personality shines through, and your audience will trust what you have to say if they can see you as a real person.
These are merely a few of many tips that can help you overcome your fear of public speaking. For more tips and tricks on acing public speaking, please read Marjorie North‘s excellent article from Harvard University here.
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