“…At a funeral, most people would rather be the guy in the coffin than have to stand up and give the eulogy.” – Comedian Jerry Seinfeld

Let’s shelve the cure for Gymnophobia for another day. That subject is simply unbareable.david

nervousspeaker

Besides since Almost DailyBrett is more oriented toward strategic communications, a focus on the fear of public speaking, Glossophobia, is more in keeping with this family oriented blog.

First there is an admission that I need to make. I used to have a pretty serious stutter or stammer, if you wish. Yep, the kind that wins you an Academy Award for Best Picture as in The King’s Speech. While there has been tremendous attention on George VI’s affliction, only those closest to me knew that I was fighting off this personal demon slowly but surely.

My mind always seemed to be running faster than my mouth. For some reason, there were all these words that wanted to get out and my motor functions just were not up to the task. The result was a log jam, and the more it happened the more it caused anxiety.

The remedy was slow and hard to come by (occasionally the stammer makes a brief return visit requiring me to simply calm down). It took maturity, patience and practice. It required slowing down, listening rather than always talking (or trying to talk), picking when I needed to say something as opposed to when it would be nice to say something. As Lou Holtz once said: “If you can’t add value to silence, then shut up.” Amen.

Fast forward to the present day, I have worked in public relations for nearly three decades where verbal skills are critical for success. Just last week, I lectured nearly 160 students for almost an hour about cover letters and resumes. Earlier this week, I presented another lecture on communicating with Wall Street. And I have at least two more scheduled lectures before the spring quarter is over.

Even though I had to confront my stammer and subsequently overcome it, for some reason I was never scared of public speaking…but so many people are petrified about the prospect. What are some techniques that would-be public speakers should consider, even those who would rather be in the coffin than actually delivering the eulogy:

● Practice makes perfect (or at least it makes you better). Seriously, consider joining a group such as Toastmasters International that affords opportunities to improve your public speaking with colleagues who are confronting many of the same issues. You can’t get better unless you try.

speechpractice

● Speak on subjects that you know something about, or actually more than just something. Personally, I have given talks on politics, technology, government, strategic communications, social media, cover letters and resumes. Why? Because I have more than a basic understanding of these subjects. Please don’t ask me to speak on mathematics, science, fashion, art, classical music. I would get blown out on Jeopardy on these topics and many others.

● Research your audience. Who are you speaking to? What is the topic? What are their particular interests? How can you engage them? How can you challenge them? How can you inspire them? What are their potential questions? What do you want them to take away from your talk?

● Formulate a related PowerPoint or PDF presentation and use each graphic as a prompt. Think about two minutes per graphic, which is a good way to keep you on time and most of all, stay on message.

● Forget the podium (if you can). Some people need something to hold onto, and if that is the only technique that works, then go for it. Otherwise, wear a lavaliere microphone and just like Mick Jagger, use all of the stage. If possible utilize a floor monitor so you can see your PowerPoint graphics without having to repeatedly turn your back to the audience. Which brings me to my next point…

jobswithipad

● Avoid reading your presentation. Nothing bores an audience quicker than being read to. Personally, I can’t stand it when a telemarketer calls and starts reading from a script to me. Life is too friggin short. Audiences start squirming when someone reads page after page. The same applies to reading the graphics of your PowerPoint. The audience can read the graphics themselves. Instead, emphasize and amplify on the most important points of your presentation. This approach takes practice, but it is really effective. If you don’t believe me; just ask Steve Jobs.

● Find two friendly faces in two distinct sections of the audience and rotate your attention back and forth between the two. Instead of thinking of 160 people in the room, visualize speaking to two of your closest friends with a few others listening in for their own enjoyment and information. This approach really helps control the butterflies in the stomach.

● Develop an instinctive sense of when your audience has reached its mental potential. A good performer knows when to leave the stage, satisfying them and then departing with them wanting just a little bit more (they can always visit with you after the speech). Put yourself in the seat of each audience participant…if you think your tushy would be getting soar, then you can be assured that is the case for them as well.

Speaking of tushies, let’s address Gymnophobia…ah …another time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossophobia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gymnophobia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_VI_of_the_United_Kingdom

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_King’s_Speech

http://www.toastmasters.org/

Advertisements