Public Speaking at Its Best

I read a post from a coaching colleague today.  Here’s what he said:  “Public speaking is the number one fear of most people on earth. It scares them more than the prospect of death!!”
Is this you?  If so, don’t worry – it’s easy to overcome.  Many of you have heard me comment that I used to be super shy and introverted.  Add to the mix a horror at the thought of public speaking!!  The first time I was asked was to simply read a short passage for my church congregation.  I had been a member of this church for about 7 years, so it wasn’t even in front of strangers, but people who knew and loved me.  It took another 18 months of my pastor cajoling me before I finally screwed up the courage to do it.
The key to my success wasn’t the page of underwear advertisements with faces cut from our pictorial directory (what a hoot!!) that he put on the lectern for me to see, but the time he spent with me the day before coaching me. 
Here’s what I learned that day. 
Know your material.  It’s likely when you do your presentation that you’re speaking about material you are really interested in.  And you’re the expert among us.  Use humor; laughter puts a speaker at ease.  Use personal stories and speak as though you were having a conversation with us. 
Practice!   I read that passage repeatedly until I knew it nearly by heart.  I read it slowly, quickly, and really slowly!  The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel.  Practice speaking loudly and clearly.
Know the room.  We’re all pretty familiar with the room at Tatnuck, but take some time to come early so you can stand where you’ll stand when speaking and even practice some of what you’ll say.  Get familiar with the room from this perspective. 
Relax.    Before you even begin speaking, try this.  Right after you come to the front, pause, smile at some members, and count to three (“One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand.. ). Don’t even begin to speak before you do this.  This helps transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
Know that people want you to succeed.  We’re all rooting for you!
Remember that we’ve all made mistakes.
Here are some other tips for a powerful and professional presentation.
·      Stand up tall – we have more confidence in ourselves and it open our airways
·      Keep your hands in front of you – and out of your pockets.
·      Bring props.
·      Involve the “audience”.
·      Dress professionally.

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