Does your heart do the talking?

“You can speak well

 if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.”                                                        John Ford  

     When I was contacted to participate in a radio interview, an overwhelming excitement took over, that led to panic! Despite my teaching/training background, talking to a radio audience of strangers was terrifying.

    I took my own advice and wrote on two different themes.  First I journaled, how am I feeling, why, and what will I do to overcome the fear of the unknown?  Second, I wrote an organized plan to be prepared for the interview.

 Did I meet my goals?  You decide:

    That’s the back story of my sharing this information with you.  If you are going to speak in front of a group of three, or a group of untold numbers, being prepared is the key ingredient.

10 Tips for Public Speaking

1.     Know your material

Be familiar with the subject matter to go with the flow of the presentation notes. Have a clear introduction and a clear conclusion. It’s okay to admit to being nervous. Feeling some nervousness before giving a speech is natural and even beneficial.  Being too relaxed leads to looking and feeling uninvolved.  Getting it out there by admitting being nervous, usually acts a way to allow the mind to automatically calm down.

2.     Practice! Practice!  Practice!

Rehearse out loud so you aren’t glued to reading every word on the paper.  Reading out loud is a boring passive activity!  Insulting the listeners by having them read along with a copy of your script is a real turn off. 

Practice answering every question you can imagine the audience asking.  Role play with a friend or several friends.

3.     Know the room

If you are new to the audience, arrive five minutes early to get a feel for the room.  If you are a member of the group, breathe and smile to your friends.  Get the audience involved during the talk by asking a question or taking a survey by a show of hands.  Choose your content to match the interests and cultural level of the audience. Complex technical words and sentences would not be appropriate for all situations.

4.     Visualize yourself giving your speech

Prepare by imagining yourself speaking, with a clear and confident voice. Visualize the audience clapping at the end. Know you can succeed because you are prepared.  Audiences want you to do well by being interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They’re rooting for you.

5.     Concentrate on the message – not on yourself

Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.  Be prepared to answer questions. It’s okay to admit you don’t know the answer, but will find out and get back to the person who asked the question.

6.     Gain experience

The message is a representation of you — as an authority and as a person.

Decide how you want to look and how the audience will appreciate your sharing.

7.    Relax

Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm. (Tough order to overcome the nervousness!) If you stand up, don’t pace. If you sit down don’t play with a pen or paperclip.  Using hand movements, expressive eyes and facing a variety of people makes the talk more enjoyable.

8.     Use Humor

Be prepared with some ideas to insert humor.  Jokes aren’t necessary.  Sometimes a quote or words of wisdom, presented at an appropriate time can be humorous and thought provoking.

9.     Handouts

If handouts are appropriate, dispense them at the end of your talk.  If given out too early, the audience will be reading instead of listening to you. If the handout is part of the presentation, explain the contents upfront, then at the end review how the information can be used in the future.

10.   Breathing

Run on sentences and paragraphs can put the audience to sleep.  When appropriate, take a 3-5 second breath to allow the audience to catch up and stay with your thought processes. Vary the tone, rhythm and volume of your voice whenever possible.  Practicing before giving the presentation will allow muscle memory to cooperate when you need it.







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