CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JAN. 28, 2015
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Public Speaking: Can You Hack It?

We can all sympathise with that feeling of complete dread when we are informed that we’ll be giving a presentation to a room full of colleagues, clients, or worse, management level staff. Even the most confident of employees feel the very same fear that you do, the fear that really sinks your stomach and makes you sweat uncontrollably. Yes, it’s not a nice feeling and it can negatively affect the outcome of a presentation if the presenter allows it to take over. So how do we overcome this fear? Why are we so terrified at the sheer thought of standing in front of a room full of people to give a presentation? Let’s take a closer look at this topic with this informative infographic by London Speaker Bureau.com.

Glossophobia

You may have heard of this term before – Glossophobia. It is the term used to describe the fear of public speaking.

How can you tell if you suffer from Glossophobia? If you suffer from any or all of the below traits when public speaking, then it is likely that you do suffer from this debilitating phobia.

  •           You suffer from a shaky of weak voice
  •           You freeze and be unable to speak
  •           You sweat uncontrollably
  •           Your heart races and you feel breathless
  •           You go red in the face and suffer from shaking hands

This type of phobia affects a huge number of people. Statisticbrain.com published data from 2013 that shows a staggering 5.3 million Americans have a social phobia and 74% suffer from speech anxiety. This is a worrying statistic and it is therefore important that individuals know how to overcome this fear.

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

There is a lot of truth to this statement. The key to a successful presentation is planning. No matter how many people you are presenting to or how big or small of a presentation it is, if you plan, very little can actually go wrong. The infographic reveals that R.E.A.L planning is the way to a successful public speech. R.E.A.L stands for Relevant, Eloquent, Articulate and Learned. Essentially, you need to keep your speech relevant to the audience you are presenting to, be clear in your delivery, be articulate and know exactly what you are talking about. The more of an ‘expert’ on the topic you are, the more confident you will feel once up there giving your speech!

The Strategy…

With every successful public speech there is a carefully thought out strategy behind the speech itself. Pay careful attention to the title of your presentation – it needs to be catchy, engaging and relevant to the topic. If you can engage your audience from the title, you are well on your way to a successful presentation!

The next most important aspect to consider is the content of your speech. You need to have interesting points to talk about (even if it is on a topic that is likely to bore the most enthusiastic of individuals). You need to find something interesting about the topic and run with it. You can also try to open your presentation with a light hearted joke or two to get the audience ‘warmed up’. This is only advisable however if you are sure your audience will react positively, because if not, if could make you feel even more nervous!

You need to include hard facts, figures and information that are new to your audience. Why? Because what is the use of giving a presentation if the audience are already aware of everything you are telling them? The worst thing you can do is regurgitate information to an already bored group of people.

Keep it simple, stupid. Yes, that’s right. You need to keep to your facts and figures without diverting too far off the subject. It is incredibly easy to go off tangent when you are nervous and faced with a room full of faces staring back at you, so be sure to carry notes with you and stick to the topic at hand.

Once you have your strategy in place and you are ready to take to the stage (or head of the boardroom table), you can utilise the following tips and tricks…

  1.      Open with a joke or dramatic effective i.e. get your audience to close their eyes and raise their hands to answer a question that will really make them think outside the box.
  2.      Use verbs and get your audience involved as much as possible. The more ‘action’ orientated the speech is the better.
  3.      Don’t use stale content, use metaphors, similes, oxymorons, or anything else that will catch their attention.
  4.      Use anecdotes and by witty. Go as far as to tell your audience how nervous you are about making this speech and combine it with a funny joke to lighten the mood. If the audience are aware you are nervous, they will be more receptive.

There are many more tips that I can include, for example; when called up to the stage, be sure to exude confidence and smile at all times, however, the tips mentioned above will set the foundation for a successful speech for you.

Check out the infographic in this article for a deeper insight into successful public speaking.

Do you have any more tips that I haven’t mentioned that will ensure a successful presentation? Add them in the comments section below!

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