public speaking

3 ways to succeed at public speaking using your own words

Whatever your politics, no one could blame Melania Trump for being reticent to make a speech again.  Despite her strong presence and poise, she was vilified because she didn't own all the words and phrases herself.  Potential exposure to ridicule in front of strangers, whether it's in a school hall, a business forum, or on world-wide TV, creates the same feelings of anxiety.  According to this 2015 study by Chapman University, a third of Americans are afraid of public speaking.   

Some people spend hundreds or thousands of dollars trying to confront this anxiety with psychological therapy, but for most people who want, or need, to share their words with gatherings of strangers, a strategic approach is best.

It boils down to faith. Not the sort on display in the evangelical sections of the Republican Convention, but faith in your own ability to manage your emotions with positive thoughts, and the right amount of preparation and practice.

FAITH IN YOUR MATERIALS

It's easy to look over the sea of critical eyes and imagine the audience sitting in judgment. Remember that, like you, they're all human - capable of empathy, of active listening, and of emotional support. Look around the room, latch onto the eyes in the audience who are watching and listening to you intently, and focus on speaking directly to them. Try to find a person in each different section of your audience who is paying acute attention to what you're saying.

Own your own words and ideas, and formulate them in your head in a way you can articulate them to others. If someone else has drafted your speech, make sure it's finalized in your own style, your own words, and your own powers of expression. If you DO borrow someone's words - QUOTE them - it reflects well on your humility and confidence. Don't write scribbled notes you can't read clearly "on the night",  no handwritten paragraphs, tiny print, orloose pages. Nervous speakers like to cling to something, which often then becomes an obstacle to speaking clearly, and to letting your hands free to emphasize your points naturally.

First, do your research, so you know your subject. Next, spend a couple of days simply thinking about what you want to say. When you're ready, write a "structure" . Here's a quick example/template which won't apply to all addresses

Opening remarks (for a positive, humorous, or story-telling start)

Your reason for being there

Why your remarks are important/timely - the justification

The facts and background you want others to know

The point of the story

A recap of your critical points

The take-away from the speech

Once you have your structure down, take a bunch of postcard-sized note cards.

Imagine they are a PowerPoint presentation - with the key points written in bullet-form. If you've done your research, this is all you should take to the stage. They're easy to handle, easy to refer to, and you won't lose your way. At the same time, you'll speak spontaneously and naturally, and have time to establish and maintain great eye contact with the audience. Practice with your best friend. If you can, video your practice sessions to become comfortable with your own presence, your posture, and your voice.

FAITH IN YOUR AUDIENCE

 

Remember most of them, when called on to speak, are as terrified as you are, and they will probably remember that feeling as they listen to you.

It's easy to look over the sea of critical eyes and imagine the audience sitting in judgment. Remember that, like you, they're all human - capable of empathy, of active listening, and of emotional support. Look around the room, latch onto the eyes in the audience who are watching and listening to you intently, and focus on speaking directly to them. Try to find a person in each different section of your audience who is paying acute attention to what you're saying.

 

FAITH IN YOURSELF

Your Mom probably told you know one will believe in you if you don't believe in yourself. So it's time to practice mindfulness. You have an important story to tell. You have a captive audience, and you can give them new information they need to know. So walk out to the front of the stage - ignore the podium or any other protective, defensive devices - stand up straight and tall, stand still - feel your feet like heavy weights anchored to the floor, and use your hands to "act out" the points you are making. Above all, smile when you can - even if it's a tough subject. If you open yourself to the audience, they will likely open up to you.  Sincerity and authenticity, are your friends.

If you like this advice, check out http://www.birkdalemedia.com for more.