Saturday, 31 October 2015

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf - Public Speaking, Challenges, Benefits and Opportunities

 Public Speaking, Challenges, Benefits and Opportunities

It is absolutely essential to master the art of public speaking.  Sadly this is a recipe to promote the fear of god into the most seasoned professional.  You may or may not be aware that there is a real sickness or syndrome out there called Glossophobia - the fear of public speaking.

Hell as a mere youngster, around age 26 I had the task of presenting to an auditorium of 200 IBM techies.  I can safely say it put the fear of god into me, before (several weeks before) during and even afterwards.  I had the challenge of interpreting every movement of my audience and trying to put a positive spin on their body language.  This in itself was a recipe for disaster.  I can tell you there was a guy, an older gentlemen sitting in the front row stretched out with his legs straight crossed at the ankles with his arms folded across his chest, bored or what.  That very guy caused me to completely throw my presentation and instilled huge fear which lasted for some time and made my presentation seem endless.  

You have to overcome this if you are to succeed in your business life.  Your reputation is vastly enhanced as and when you present yourself to an audience of your peers. Your understanding is appreciated, accepted and your ability to close deals will be vastly improved. Understand this, if you know your subject then there is no one that will not be interested in what you have to say. 

Someone once said to me:  We all come into this world in the same bloody mess as each other, basically we are all equal.  Sure we are all able to be judged and we are all able to judge, but what does it really matter.

Just get up there and have fun and the more you do it the more fun you will have.

1) Think of a neutral opening line that injects a little humanity into the speech.  Use humour, not offensive humour of course just something light and innocuous. 

2) Wherever possible include the audience. I don't mean drag the guy in the front row onto the podium but I do mean involve them, make the event interactive.  But remember you have a time pressure and cover your content sensibly.

3) Whether you're presenting to 3, 30 or 3,000 it really makes no difference.  But if you need to; start small and build up your confidence, then do so.

4) Prepare, not with bullet points but write the whole presentation out verbatim.  Remember when the queen of England speaks it is all scripted and she reads as per the content laid out in front of her.  Don't be afraid to shuffle papers.

5) Practice: I mean read it through again and again and again.  Relax into it, that way if you drop your papers or the battery dies on your ipad you are not lost.

6) Use pauses to emphasize points.  Pauses only seem long to you but they give your audience time to adjust and provided they don't cause you to buckle at the knees they will be your friend helping you formulate your next point.

7) Composure; Even though you will read from your script always scan your audience catching eye contact briefly and regularly with as many of the audience as you can.

8) Tone; Do not deliver in a monotone, look for ways to emphasize points; use rhetorical questions to engage with them.
9) Perhaps for me is an important point: deliver examples in 3's. Look at the major speakers as an example; Margaret Thatcher always made points in 3's  In 1980 she made a speech to the Conservative conference.

"She confessed that there might be an obstacle in the way in the form of another winter of discontent. But she claimed that she preferred to believe that a lesson had been learned from the past, and that the country was coming slowly towards a new Autumn of Understanding, which she hoped would be followed by a Winter of Commonsense".

"She had a few words which might have been directed towards the wets in her own Cabinet. She talked of "those who urge us to relax the squeeze, to spend yet more money indiscriminately in the belief that it will help the unemployed." Such people, she said, were not being kind, or compassionate, or caring".

John F Kennedy also used the 3 to emphasize a point:  November 1960 "It is cold, rainy, and there are many other things you would want to do. But I am grateful to you for being able to stand and say “Hello.” I think you are here for the same reason that I am, because this is an important election, because we are Democrats, because we believe in progress, and because we are going to win".

There are many such examples  in many great speeches.

As time moves on you too will make great speeches and they will be speeches that bring fulfillment, improved self esteem but above all a great sense of achievement.

The worst point of any presentation is always the minute before you step out into the lime light.  Use that minute to focus on where this will go. Great athletes always before their event focus on the visualization as to the results of a positive outcome.  Use breathing as a way to calm yourself focus solely on your in and out breath.  Clear your head in ways that can relax, stimulate and thus take you to another level far above the negativity that fear brings.

Good luck and remember look to the pages of for further inspiration, for further guidance and enlightenment.

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