Posts Tagged ‘afraid of public speaking’

Public Speaking: A Day To Remember

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Here is an email I received from Jason Kallio, founder of ExpoVantage about the rewards of presenting.  Enjoy.

         “We focus on structuring our content with our teacher hat on so that we’re not misunderstood.  This eliminates noise which is confusion.  Then we deliver our content with passion, humanity and intent.  This is how we connect with our audience.
 
I did a high energy, fast paced seminar yesterday on 60 trade show tips in 60 minutes. One guy said that after 25 years in the business his experience backed up everything that I said, and he learned a few new things, too.  Content strong.  Facts are facts. Nothing too controversial about the topic.
 
One woman had been at another one of my presentations.  She implemented the tips that I had given.  Before we started, she experessed her excitement that I was the presenter.  She expressed her trust in my content, my energy and that it would be fun.  During my presentation I got her to back me up on the effectiveness of a tip about wearing two pair of socks & changing your shoes as ways to make it more comfortable throughout the day.  I would not have had this information had I not interacted before the presentation.  Had this information not been used, it would have been a lost opportunity to strengthen the delivery.  Humanity and improv make a difference.
 
To top it all off, a man took the time to come back in the room to complement me on my presentation skills.  He is in Toastmasters.  He had a standard that he was now comparing me.  He is a banker and presents often.  He does not feel present when he delivers his content.  I asked if he knew his material.  He was very confident.  After lengthy discussion, I suggested going to improv class.  This will open his mind to be in the moment.  He expressed that this would be out there for him.  He said his wife was going to laugh, but he was going to do it, and promised to report back.  He then said, “You made a difference in my life.”
 
We can choose to present or be an artist when we present.  If you are an artist, you have the intent to connect with your audience.  Connection is the greatest gift that we can receive.  (Realistic note:  The connection keeps getting you paid, and the joy you receive means you won’t feel like you work for a living.)
 
Art and Intent intact, it’s still likely that I was misunderstood at that seminar by someone.  You just cannot please everyone all the time.  However, in my book, this is a day to remember.  Living Life.”

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Public Speaking: The Results Are In

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

You have voted and the results are in:

 Q: Does a more animated speaker seem any less credible to you? 

 Results: While the poll is still live, at the time of this writing 97% of voters agreed that speaking with enthusiasm does not make you appear any less credible than a subdued and “serious” speaker.

If this is so, then why do so many presenters project an overly serious and subdued persona?  The reason is that any small gestures or expressions feel bigger than they are to the presenter and appears smaller than they are to the audience.

Consider a natural one-on-one friendly conversation.  Because the speaker is relaxed she will use gestures and expressions appropriately and her enthusiasm will show.  But, when she is presenting to a group those gestures and expressions need to be amplified to project  further and broader.  As she feels pressure, however, she becomes nervous and is inclined to do just the opposite.  She dulls the shine and decreases intensity.  The audience simply accepts this as another boring presentation to be endured.

The only way to overcome this challenge as a presenter is to be aware of it.  Know that your audience wants to see enthusiasm, gestures and expressions.  Our poll shows that your audience will not perceive you as goofy and less professional.  On the contrary, you will be appreciated and admired.

Next time you present, understand that if you feel like you are over gesturing and expressing, you are probably doing it just right.

Here you can read 8 great tips on gestures.

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Public Speaking: 5 Tips on Handling Hecklers

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Are you intimidated by hostile audiences? Public speaking can be daunting enough, but when you are faced with a tough or hostile audience, it can be petrifying.  Below are some techniques to set the battlefield in your favor.  By employing these, you will gain the upper ground and successfully stave off much of the attack.

1) Stop the attack before it starts.  

If you are afraid of being knocked off track with difficult questions, avoid them up front by saying: “I have 30 minutes with you, and I will keep within that time.  During the presentation I’ll probably answer many of the questions you have, so please make a mental note of questions and save them until the end.  I’ve budgeted 10 minutes at the end; so we can address them.”

2) Don’t give them a chance to pre-empt you.

If you have handouts, wait until your presentation is over to distribute them; otherwise people will read ahead, find mistakes and formulate tougher questions.

3) Stop the monopolizer before he starts.

At the beginning of Q&A say, “we have 10 minutes for all Q&A and I want to make sure that everyone who has a question gets a chance, who would like to go first?” If nobody raises their hand, you start things off by saying, “A question I’m often asked is . . .”

4) No dead time.

Moving briskly and purposefully is a magician’s trick to keep the questioners quiet.  When you are on course and in control, it feels awkward for the heckler to chime in.  Once there is a break in your flow, he’ll jump right in.

5) Give them no fuel to attack by being likeable.

Be there early and greet attendees as they arrive.  Chat with them and make it personal.

Look and act confidently but speak humbly.

Mention in the beginning that you will be sure to keep within your allocated time: “I have thirty minutes to update you, and I’ll be sure to stay within that time period.” They can’t help but to like that.

If you feel you know less than your audience and you are going to be fielding many tough questions: “I may not have all the answers, but I’ll tap into our experts in the audience during Q&A.”

Caveat: Many times you want open discussion and probing questions.  This vlog is not about fostering that environment.  On the contrary it is for those who seek to avoid a challenging or hostile environment.  Not all techniques are universally applicable.  Use your judgment.

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Public Speaking: 19 Deadly Delivery Mistakes

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

lecternPublic speaking can be the most daunting task because we make it so. No doubt you’ve heard that according to surveys, most people are more afraid of public speaking than death. Of course the major reason is that we are concerned about how others will perceive us.

The truth is that when we engage in public speaking we shape many people’s perceptions about us in a very short time. In many instances, perception dictates reality; so it is important for us to shine in the spotlight.

When people say they are afraid of public speaking, usually they are talking about their delivery more than their content. Clearly both are important, but most people feel in control when it comes to mastering their content for a presentation. They are more worried about how they will appear before their audience.  In the realm of public speaking, we call this delivery. In our public speaking blog we’ve covered much material on this topic. Here is a summary of 19 delivery mistakes:

AVOID

1. Standing right next to the person introducing you. Instead, wait far off to the side.

2. Walking too fast to center stage/floor. Instead, a moderate pace will transmit authority and confidence.

3. Launching immediately into your presentation. Instead, pause a moment and scan your audience and then deliver your power opener.

4. Not shaking the person’s hand who introduced you.

5. Not publicly thanking the person who introduced you.

6. Not smiling, but don’t force it either. The only thing worse than a somber face is the fake public speaking “chucky” smile.

7. Standing in one spot during your entire presentation.

8. Pacing is worse than standing in one spot. A quick tip on effective movement: give 1/3 of the presentation to the center, 1/3 to the left and 1/3 to the right. Always start and finish center.

9. Standing behind the lectern is deadly. GET OUT OF THERE.

10. Reading off slides is probably the #1 way to turn off your audience. Most public speakers do it.

11. Monotone voice is a cure for insomnia. Instead, record your presentation to ensure you’re injecting enthusiasm.

12. Filler is killer. “Umms”, “ahhs” and “like” will destroy your impact not only in public speaking, but also in one-on-one communication. Instead use the pause.

13. Talking too fast. People can’t process as fast as you can talk. It makes you appear not only nervous but lacking authority as well.

14. Poor eye contact is a major challenge with most public speakers.

15. Speaking softly. If you want to aggravate your audience make them strain to hear you.

16. Petrified body. A talking statue amuses nobody. Catch yourself talking to friends.  What does your body language look like? That’s what your audience wants to see.

17. Petrified face. The audience’s face mirrors yours. If you speak with a frozen countenance, you’ll be looking into a sea of expressionless faces. When you tell a story to a friend, your facial expressions accent the words. Do the same when public speaking.

18. Awkward close. Remember nerves spike at the beginning and end. I’ve seen great public speakers fumble to close. Remember your closing rote.

19. Being too conservative. Unless you’re presenting to the board at a stodgy bank, put some fun into your presentation. Most presentations are painful to endure. A dash of sugar will make them love you.

If you avoid these 19 common delivery mistakes, your audience won’t care whether you are nervous because they will like you and appreciate that you gave them an experience instead of a boring book report. You will shine in comparison to the public speakers who precede and follow you, because it’s almost guaranteed that these other presenters fall victim to most of the 19 deadly delivery mistakes.

There you have it! Now pounce on your fear of presenting, and use these delivery skills to enjoy the art of public speaking.

Learn more about our public speaking training program here.

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Public Speaking: Don’t Use PowerPoint As A Crutch

Friday, February 20th, 2009

What an epiphany!  

If you want to learn how to improve public speaking watch other speakers AND observe their audience while they speak.  Consider the faces of the audience members and look at their eyes.  What you will see most of the time is polite interest at best and boredom at worst.  On occasion you will see an engaged audience – what is the speaker doing (or not doing) to get that reaction? Take mental notes.

I watched a woman bore her audience with a Power Point presentation. BUT then, her computer quit. She had no hard copy; so she completed the presentation with NO aids.  This created some tension, which awoke the audience from their mental slumber.  Because she stopped reading from her slides, she connected with the audience.  Their faces changed from exhibiting apathy to shining with interest.  Even though her organization and smooth pace suffered a bit, her ability to connect more than compensated.

What can we learn from this?  PowerPoint is great to make a visually powerful POINT, but not to deliver an entire presentation.  A slightly bumpy presentation without the crutch of Power Point is far more effected that a smooth presentation with it.

What do you think?

Add impact to your presentation using PowerPoint.

Speaking from the heart  & speaking from the heart II

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Public Speaking: Exhibit Confidence

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

In our previous blogs we spoke about veiling the nerves.  Once that is accomplished, we are ready to emulate what a confident person does, even though we may not feel confident from within.

Two “tricks” that we’ve discussed are pausing and moving at a moderate pace.  Here is another technique for exhibiting confidence.

In college, I was already an avid student of public speaking, and I made it a point to compare and contrast students’ public speaking performances with those of our professors. This is not to say that professors are necessarily great presenters, but they do tend to look comfortable and confident.  When students are asked to speak before the class, even though they might have a great presentation prepared, they usually appear nervous and awkward.

Of course the professors typically spoke at a much slower pace, but I also noticed that they tended to lean a great deal.  Later, when I began studying body language, my observation was confirmed by research: confident people will lean (when appropriate) and nervous people will not.  Professors would have one hand in the pocket and, on occasion, put the other hand on a table or desk.  This is a great telegraph of comfort and confidence if it is NOT a formal presentation.  Clearly you would not use this technique giving a eulogy or a presentation to the board of directors.

On a side note, in social situations, for example a house party, studies show that guests who are comfortable and confident will tend to lean as well.

There you  have it, the power of the lean, just make sure you don’t fall over!

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Public Speaking: Fear – Nerves and Confidence

Monday, February 16th, 2009

To date, we have uncovered the secrets to veiling the fear of pubic speaking:

Fear of Public Speaking: Stop shaky hands
Fear of Public Speaking: Stop shaky voice
Fear of Public Speaking: Cure the dry throat
Fear of Public Speaking: Avoid freezing

Once you can successfully manage/veil your public speaking fear, you are ready discover how to emulate confidence, even when you are not feeling that confidence from within.

What are the common denominators of a confident speaker?  After years of studying presenters, both nervous and confident, I’ve uncovered the nuances that make the difference.

1) We have already discussed the first: pacing, which dictates that more confident speakers tend to do everything at a more moderate, purposeful pace.  Nervous speakers tend to race, both physically and verbally.  As as side note, research shows that people who talk too fast and bustle around the office are PERCEIVED as lower in the power chain than those who talk and move at a moderate pace.

2) Confident speakers PAUSE.  Without the pause, people cannot digest as swiftly as you speak.  Of equal importance your pauses clearly communicate that you are confident (irrespective of whether it is true). Always pause when you make a strong point.  Pause when you are searching what to say next.  As we discovered in the avoid freezing blog entry, pausing makes YOU feel awkward but it makes you LOOK confident. Conversely, “umms and ahhs” to fill the silence make YOU feel more comfortable, but they make you LOOK far more awkward.

Public speaking fear can be managed easily and effectively using these techniques.

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Public Speaking: Fear – Avoid Freezing

Friday, February 13th, 2009

ice-cubes-nausea-lgIn learning to veil the fear of public speaking, we must address the common fear of freezing.  Here is a simple technique:

Memorize rote your opener and closer.  Why? Research shows that nerves spike in the first few moments of a presentation and in the last few moments.  When nerves spike you are more likely to freeze; so by memorizing, word-for-word, your power opener and power close, you will have more confidence when you need it most.

Clearly if you are using Power Point as a crutch, all you need to do is look up at the slide, but for the more effective presenters who chose not to read from their visuals, keep the following in mind:

1) Freezing to you is simply pausing to them.  Four seconds feels like an eternity for you, but it seems like a respectable pause to the audience.  It feels weak to you, but they interpret it as confidence.  It’s okay to “freeze” to allow your brain to catch up; then move on.  Avoid “Ums and ahs” and any filler. It is counterintuitive that filler makes YOU feel more comfortable, but it makes your audience think you are insecure.

2) Keep in mind that, in most cases, the audience does not know the layout of your presentation; so if you freeze on a point, just move to the next. You can address the missed point later in the presentation without anyone noticing.

3) If you’re using notes, avoid writing in sentence form or, even worse, paragraph form.  For a nervous speaker this can be deadly.  Once you lose your place, your eyes start to race through the text to find where you left off, and the panic snowballs as the seconds tick away.  Bullets in large font ensure that in just a glance you can get right back on track.

Freezing is simply a mind game with one player – you.  By employing the tips above you will be more confident that you will not freeze, which means that you’ll be less likely to freeze in the first place.

There you have it, yet another tip to manage your fear of public speaking.

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Public Speaking: Fear – Dry Throat

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

dreamstime_11462314[1]Veiling your fear of public speaking is quite simple, once you know the quick-fix tricks.  We’ve already discussed how to stop the shaky hands and how to stop the shaky voice.  Now we’ll share a simple technique for handling the dry throat.  

Just do a search on the web, and you’ll find many people seeking a remedy for the dry throat when they become anxious.  Here it is:

1) Forget water because it quickly dissipates within a minute.  If, however, you do drink water before or during your presentation, make sure it is at room temperature because cold water constricts the throat making public speaking more difficult.

2) The best remedy: luke warm orange juice.  It will give your throat a silky coating that will LAST through your presentation.

3) If you’re caught off-guard and have nothing with you: Imagine eating Sour Patch Kids, which will get your saliva glands into action.

4) A teaspoon of honey will give you a lasting coating, and it may be more palatable for you than luke warm OJ.

The benefit to you of using one of these remedies is that you won’t have to swallow mid sentence when public speaking, which is a dead giveaway that your are nervous.  Now with one less thing to worry about, you can concentrate on your delivery.

Please share your comments on how to veil your fear of public speaking.

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Public Speaking: Fear – Shaky Voice

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Does your voice shake when you are speaking in public?  Just like the shaky hand, your fear of public speaking triggers the release of excessive adrenaline, which causes your voice to shake.

What big mistake do most speakers make when their voice gets shaky?  They lower the volume.  It is natural to want to lower your volume when you hear the shakiness in your voice, but it is counterproductive.  It makes the shakiness more obvious.

The solution is to raise your volume when your voice is shaky.  The extra adrenaline in your body causes your vocal cords to have tiny vibrations that make that shaky sound.  When you speak loudly, the bigger movements of the vocal cords will veil the smaller vibrations caused by nerves.  In essence, you drown out the shakiness in your voice.

While counterintuitive, it is this simple: turn up the volume to overcome the “shakes”.

More to come on veiling your fear of public speaking.

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