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First Impressions – Public Speaking
You’ve been offered a public speaking engagement, and while you intended to decline, there were those times when you heard yourself say “yes” before you had a chance to think about it too much and now it’s too late enough to change your mind. . So you spend the time leading up to your big day worrying about it constantly. You tossed and turned the night before and woke up vomiting with a splitting headache. Even if you try to come up with a reasonable explanation as to why you need to cancel, everything seems like an excuse or what it really is, a big lie!
As you walk up to the podium, your legs are shaking, your knees are buckling and you’re praying you won’t fall. Trembling, you turn to a room full of strangers with clammy palms, shaking hands and paralyzed with fear. You can barely breathe and when you try to speak your voice shakes. Your heart is racing and beads of sweat are dripping down your face. You start a dialogue with yourself, “Am I wearing the right clothes? Do I have good hair? Am I hunched over?” And then you hear that annoying little voice inside your head, the one that got you into this mess in the first place, reminding you to stand up straight, make eye contact and don’t talk with your hands until you want to scream “shut up” because you’re nervous! Does any of this sound familiar?
Fear of public speaking, also known as performance anxiety and stage fright, causes these types of emotional and physical reactions. When we experience threats, unexpected or stressful situations, our body’s natural defense mechanism called the “fight or flight response” kicks in to help us defend (fight) ourselves. or escape (flight) from a stressful situation. The dictionary definition of public speaking is “the process of speaking to a group of people in a structured, deliberate manner intended to inform, influence, or entertain the audience”. Glossophobia (sometimes called Laliophobia) is the fear of public speaking, a common phobia for many people. In fact, it is the number one fear above divorce, moving and even death. Public speaking is like being in the middle of a dream while you’re awake. Personally I prefer to have a root canal!
Some people seem to be natural born speakers and can address a crowd without fear but the majority of the population is not so lucky. What makes public speaking scary and intimidating? Are these fears real or irrational, or real and irrational? Anyone can develop fears and phobias of anything at any age and the source of these fears may be unknown. All you know is that you are afraid. Maybe you are shy or lack confidence. Perhaps the fear of public speaking is really the fear of rejection or failure; you worry that the audience will laugh when you make a mistake, that you might put them to sleep or that you will be embarrassed, humiliated or judged unfairly. But your intelligent, well-balanced side understands that these fears are unfounded and that speaking in front of a group is not a life-threatening situation. Indeed, you know your speech by heart; it’s interesting and relevant and you even added humor in all the right places. You’ve read it so many times that you can recite it verbatim, and even though you gave a perfect performance when you rehearsed it hundreds of times in front of the mirror, you still dread the thought of standing in front of the a group. of people, who, having never met before, almost immediately make opinions about you based on three criteria: how you walk, how you talk and what you look like. In a society that cares about image and appearance, you can’t blame the audience, we all do it; it’s human nature and while some people may act without caring what others think, most of us do because we know that perspective matters.
“You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.” ~ Unknown ~
It’s natural that you want to make a good impression and despite all your worries and concerns, your audience wants to be interesting, funny and effective. Let’s face it, people have short attention spans and limited patience; they don’t want to waste their time sitting through a mind-numbingly monotonous speech. The best way to overcome your fear is to stop giving in to it. The more you avoid your fear by turning down public speaking gigs, the less chance you have of learning how to build the confidence to master that fear. The more you face your fear, the better your chances are of overcoming it. As the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect”.
It is also important to understand that you may make some small mistakes along the way but if you don’t pay attention to them and if you can keep your composure and recover from mistakes with grace, dignity and even humor. , this will make you more believable and more human to your audience. Often people learn from their mistakes as much as their achievements.
“The biggest mistake you can make in life is always being afraid that you will make it.” ~Elbert Hubbard, The Note Book, 1927.
There are many tips and tricks of the trade that can help overcome the fear of public speaking. It is said that the most famous trick is to imagine the audience naked. This strategy should give you a feeling of superiority, a feeling of embarrassment for them, imagining that they are uncomfortable in front of you thus making you more relaxed. I tried it once and completely lost my train of thought. I really don’t want to see that many people naked in the same room at the same time but if it works for you, do it! There are more effective ways to overcome the fear of public speaking. Many people have found success through journaling, support groups, workshop seminars, hypnosis, gaming, anxiety disorders or presentation skills training; breathing, meditation and relaxation exercises; visualization, social skills classes and public speaking courses. Pick one and if that doesn’t work, try another until you feel more confident in your abilities.
POINTS OF PRESENTATION
Before the presentation:
Practice, practice, practice. Know the demographics of your audience.
Welcome the audience; introduce yourself and provide a brief description of your background and credentials.
Open with an attention-grabbing statement, a surprising statistic or a profound quote. You have a captive audience so captivate them.
Don’t pose. Stand up straight, without bending over. However, you don’t want to appear too strict so act. If you are standing on the podium, do not lean on it or hide behind it.
Putting on Humor:
Everyone likes to laugh, hear a good joke and have fun. Don’t try to be a stand-up comedian but if you add appropriate humor to parts of your speech, it will break the ice and connect you with your audience.
If possible, personalize your presentation by sharing some of your disabilities; something your audience can relate to and appreciate.
Stay on Topic:
Organize your presentation. Have a goal and communicate that goal. In other words, make your point, don’t deviate from the topic and don’t ramble on.
Ask rhetorical questions; it will entice your audience to listen.
Use a teleprompter, note card or outline but do not read your presentation; your audience doesn’t want to read.
Deliver your presentation with enthusiasm and enthusiasm.
Tell a story; use analogy.
Dress for success.
Don’t worry about audience size; 95% of them don’t want to trade places with you.
Control your hands. This may sound obvious to most people but don’t put it in your pocket and jingle the change or your keys. Don’t put it on your hips, on your back or cross your arms over your chest. Don’t filter them or look like you’re trying to give directions.
Remember, you cannot control the behavior of your audience; you are only in control of yourself.
Pace yourself and pause when appropriate, this will help you collect your thoughts and maintain your composure.
Never let them see you Sweat
Try to look and act relaxed. “The trick is not to get your stomach full of butterflies, but to get them to fly in formation”. ~ College Professor, Dr. Rob Gilbert
You can exude confidence through strong vocal projection. Don’t yell or scream or talk too loudly; just raise your voice for emphasis but on the other hand, don’t speak too softly, too loudly or mumble. If you show confidence when you speak, that’s what your audience will see, and if you know what you’re talking about and truly believe what you’re saying; so are they.
Props and Presentation Tools
Using props, audio/visual equipment, handouts and samples can add a powerful and colorful dimension to your presentation.
Engage your audience. Encourage a question and answer session.
Don’t overwhelm or confuse your audience.
Don’t miss your allotted time.
End on a Positive Note
Make your ending as attention-grabbing as your beginning. Give your audience a thought-provoking clincher statement that not only engages the beginning of your presentation but leaves them wanting more. Thank you to the attendees for attending and…
“Broken a Leg”!
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