If youre like me, getting through a presentation with a bad speaker is like pulling teeth. They stutter, talk too low or too loud, and eat their words like a bowl of Alpha bits.
This wouldnt be nearly as bad if it happened once in a while, but the fact is, most people are bad at public speaking. Many dread public speaking because they are petrified of talking in front of others. With a little time and dedication to the art of speaking, this fear can disappear.
Personally, I was never afraid of speaking in public. In a weird way, I actually kind of enjoyed it. My problem was in delivering a presentation that blew people away, and had them talking about it for days. For many, this may seem pointless, but remember this – you are only as memorable as your presentation.
For those in the corporate world who think that PowerPoint is all you need, I would suggest you think again. You may get away with a dreadful PowerPoint presentation, but I guarantee you it will not impress anybody in your audience. Why would you need to impress people in your audience? Lets just say, Ive seen people get promotions based on their public speaking skills and their quarterly presentations.
For those in sales, public speaking is your bread and butter. If you are trying to sell me something that you cant even describe in a coherent manner, you can bet your last dollar I will walk away.
One book that helped me solve my problem and really opened my eyes to public speaking was, Public Speaking for Success by Dale Carnegie. If you dont know who Dale Carnegie is, you must be renting a place under a rock. Mr. Carnegies writings have helped millions become more personable and influential individuals. If you havent bought Public Speaking for Success, do yourself a big favor and purchase it immediately. It is inexpensive, and has material that you can use for the rest of your life. This book shouldnt even be in your personal library, it should be on your desk at all times. Thats how good it is.
I will break down and share with you some advice from a chapter in the book I found to be exceptional. Since most people are afraid of public speaking, the first step would be to develop courage and self confidence. Well, how does one do that?
Start With a Strong and Persistent Desire
First of all, start with a strong and persistent desire. Think of something that you enjoy doing, perhaps its going to the gym. Do you go into the gym with a strong and persistent desire to complete your workout, or do you go in there with a desire that is pale and flabby? You have to arouse your enthusiasm about public speaking the same way.
Know Thoroughly What You Are Going to Talk About
I cant stress this point enough. Far too many times, people go into the presentation without knowing what they are going to be talking about. You have to write down exactly what you will be presenting. Lets say you have a presentation on the new Apple iPad, heres an example of how you can structure your presentation:
1. Introduction (Introduce yourself; who you are, what you do, credentials, and so forth)
2. How people will benefit from the product
3. Specs. of the product
This is just a quick example. The point is, KNOW what you are going to be talking about. Solid preparation is half the battle, so dont make the mistake of not knowing what you are going to be speaking about. If you do, your presentation will not make sense and youll soon wonder why eyes are closing and heads moving to the side.
Practice, Practice, and Practice some more!
What is the last thing you got good at without practice? Go on, Ill wait for you to answer. Absolutely nothing! Without practice, you are not getting good at anything. If you want to get good at basketball, you bust your behind working on your game. The same goes here folks. You want to get good at public speaking? You have to practice!
Write out what you are going to say, then find a mirror and go through your presentation. Go over it again and again until you have memorized it. Once you have it memorized, go find a camera, switch it onto record, and record yourself speaking. Once you have finished, play it back and observe yourself. See if you can pick out any quirks, any mistakes, any parts where you did not sound confident. For many this will be a shocker, because theyve never seen themselves speak. Well now that you have, look for any bits and pieces that can be polished. Were you speaking too fast? Too slow? What about your vocal tone? Was it monotonous? Exciting? Do a complete self analysis, and then re-record over and over and over, until you are completely satisfied with what you see.
The more you practice, the less nervous you become. Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best;
He must, by custom and repeated exercise of self-mastery, get his nerves thoroughly under control. This is largely a matter of habit; in the sense of repeated effort and repeated exercise of willpower. If the man hast the right stuff in him, he will grow stronger and stronger with each exercise of it.
Spoken like a true President.
These are just some quick tips you can use right off the bat to become a better speaker right away. I want you to go out there and apply these tips, and send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how it worked for you. You can also do yourself a favour and purchase Public Speaking for Success by Dale Carnegie through Amazon.
We will be having more articles on the matter, and as always, if you need any advice or consultation, dont hesitate to shoot me an email.
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