Public speaking can be a challenge.
That’s probably an understatement.
Many people say it’s the single most terrifying thing they ever have to do.
Having an idea of the basics will definitely help.
If you are set to do a ‘live’ speech or presentation before an audience, getting ready for an interview, or planning to make a video – there are three basic things that you need to include in your preparation.
- Matter – what you say
- Method – how you organise your material, and approach your audience
- Manner – how you use your voice and your body.
I have covered all of these aspects in detail in Public Speaking … who, me?
Here’s a brief summary:
We’ll assume that you are an expert in your field. You are probably very confident that you know your subject well. There are lots of hints in the book about choosing content – getting the right level of detail, making appeals to the intellect and the emotions, and dozens of other topics.
This is about organising the content of your presentation – to achieve your purpose, and engage your audience, for the greatest effect. The book will give you plenty of information and handy hints
If your presentation and delivery don’t allow you to project the authority and confidence that you feel, what you have to offer will fail to hit the mark.
Public Speaking … who, me? covers the use of the voice (tone, volume pace, etc…) and the face and body (expression, gesture, stance, etc).
Here are just three useful tips related to Manner. They are outlined here, and fully detailed in the book.
1. The eyes have it
So as not to give the impression of nervousness and indecision, keep your gaze steady and when you change focus, do it slowly. It signals that you are in control.
AVOID darting your eyes quickly around the room.
In a one-to-one interview, or any time you are on camera, try to blink less often.
AVOID any position where you are looking in the direction of the sun or very bright lighting.
2. Take a deep breath
So as to sound confident and controlled, breathe from the diaphragm. Practise by placing your hand just above your navel and noticing the rise and fall of the diaphragm.
AVOID breathing from the upper body. Your chest and shoulders shouldn’t move.
Pause briefly after each sentence; breathe in, through the nose, before beginning the next one
AVOID rushing from one sentence to the next until you have to stop for breath. This is the classic signal of uncertainty or nervousness. Neither inspires confidence.
3. ‘Handy’ hints
So as to look more at ease, and to encourage your audience to focus on your message, eliminate all unnecessary hand gestures.
- Making gestures that aren’t designed to complement your words is merely hand waving (and can be extremely annoying)
- Pointing can be interpreted as aggressive
- Hand-clasping can appear as anxiety (or fake sincerity)
A few meaningful gestures, which add to the content or tone of your speaking, help to engage your audience. Too many make you seem theatrical or, worse, vague.
Try filming your presentation or interview. Treat it as a ‘rehearsal’. Be super-critical of your movements.
Watch your hands, but pay attention to your shoulders, as well. Many speakers unconsciously hold one higher than the other, or sit with hunched shoulders during interviews.
I have helped many professionals to improve their public speaking performance.
If you would like to have a copy of Public Speaking … who, me? or if you want advice or coaching before you make that important presentation, please contact me.