How to Be a Relaxed and Successful Speaker
By Sandy Schroeder
Public speaking can challenge a lot of normally confident people. They may knock off all of the other work tasks without blinking, but when a presentation comes up, doubts quickly surface. I worked with a very confident accountant who ran her department with ease, but she drew a blank when she realized she would have to give a major speech for her company.
After much discussion, she was persuaded to prepare the speech and practice delivery. She put together an interesting talk with good content, but delivery was another matter.
Fear of public speaking, glossophobia, affects about 75 percent of the population, according to DumbLittleMan.com. If you can relate, it may be time to work on the issue to become a relaxed confident speaker that your company can count on.
When I worked with the accountant on her speech, I told her to think about the content and try to communicate that information. The more she believed in her topic and wanted her audience to understand it, the less self-conscious she would be. When the big night came, she started slowly and stiffly, but as she warmed to the subject she did relax and reach out to her audience. By the end of the speech she was delivering a strong message, holding her audience's attention, and actually becoming comfortable on stage.
Here are some more ways you can get comfortable while speaking.
Know who your audience is - Do your homework and know what type of audience will be out there. Are they all experienced pros -- or novices? Do you know them personally or are they all new to you?
Know your subject - Just like the accountant, make sure you have your topic well in hand and want your subject to understand it too.
Speak directly and clearly - Look out at your audience and watch for reactions, nods and smiles or puzzled expressions.
Rehearse a lot - When you know your speech very well and you are comfortable with the equipment you will be using, things are apt to go more smoothly.
Take a deep breath - Pause for a moment and smile as you turn nervousness into drama and excitement. If that is too much of a reach, just keep your voice low and confident and maintain eye contact.
Appreciate human nature - It's important to realize the audience really does want you to succeed. Any awkward moments are actually uncomfortable for them too. Absorb their support.
Be flexible - Whatever can go wrong may indeed go wrong, but it does not have to be a disaster if you can grin and go with it.
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