Learn To Speak Publicly Like a Pro

Learn To Speak Publicly Like a Pro

You start to shake a little bit. Your hands are a little clammy. There’s this weird hole in your stomach that makes you feel like you haven’t eaten in days. You’re thinking it might not be too late to cancel. Except you’re already at the podium, in front of all these people. You can’t turn back now.

 

Some studies estimate that 75% of the public has some level of fear or anxiety around the thought of public speaking. Whether it’s in front of an auditorium of people, or just to a handful of coworkers, public speaking leaves people feeling queasy.

 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. To overcome your fear of public speaking try these steps.

 

Preparation

If you want to freeze and loose track of your message and stumble around your words, step up to the podium or take your place in front of a room and simply wing it. Otherwise do your homework first. Determine who your audience is. Prepare speaking points that will be of interest to them. Give them something that will teach or inspire them right off the bat to get them on your side. Or something that will make them laugh. Have a solid presentation on paper then prepare to give present it out loud.

 

Practice 

That means practice, practice, practice. Give your speech to yourself in front of the mirror. Take note of your body language and what your face is doing. Give your speech to your dog. Give your speech to a friend. Give your speech to a couple friends. Start small and work your way up to larger crowds. Practice makes the words come easier. It’ll help you remember what comes next. It’ll give you more confidence as well.

 

While you’re doing all that practicing take note of your tone. Do you sound bored? Engaged? Nervous? Learn to modulate that in front of the mirror. Remind yourself to pause between thoughts. Give your audience a chance to absorb what you’re saying.

 

Talk slowly, breathe deeply

Taking a couple deep breaths automatically relaxes you. Take a couple of grounding, reassuring breaths before you get up to speak. If you are using cue cards or a paper, write “Talk Slowly” at the top. When you get nervous, you’ll start talking quicker without realizing it. That little reminder can keep you calm and help you realize it’s okay to give yourself small moments.

 

Pick someone out in the crowd

Generally, the fear that comes with public speaking has to do with the public part. We have no trouble talking with friends at a party or over coffee. But expand that number and feel the eyes of all those people on your person and all of a sudden your mouth dries out. Many people adept at public speaking pick a single person in the crowd and focus on them. By focusing on an individual you can imagine you’re delivering your speech to an audience of one.

 

Remember fear is normal

Finally, remember that getting nervous about public speaking is normal. Ask 75% of the public at large. However, just because you are worried about speaking in public, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it well!

 

Make An Impact By Planning Your Conversations

Make An Impact By Planning Your Conversations

All of us have conversations all day long, but when we have an important piece of information to convey rather than just diving in like with any other conversation, it’s better to plan ahead.

 

The importance of the beginning

Whether speaking to a group or an individual, how you start is of utmost importance because it’s the first impression of that conversation. Those first few seconds are going to set the tone of what follows. They’re going to be a huge determinant of whether the person or persons you’re speaking to are going to pay attention and care about what you’re about to say or whether they’re going to mentally check out.

 

Before you start speaking you should know where you want to start and where you want to end. By the time you’re into the crux of what you want to say, you want your listeners leaning forward mentally, and emotionally prepared to take it in.

 

There are several ways for you to grab the audience or person you’re speaking to.

 

Well thought out compliments

A sincere, well thought out compliment shows them that you’ve been paying attention to them and they will reciprocate by paying attention back to you.

 

Attention grabbing facts

Get the most important or riveting fact about what you’re going to say out right away. Capture their attention. We broke sales records last month and I know exactly how we can do it again this month.

 

If there’s recently been any news related to what you’re about to say, have a tangible, physical copy of it there with you, so you can show it to the person, let them hold it in their hands or pass it amongst themselves as tangible proof of what you’re saying.

 

A smiling face

Pay attention to what your face is doing. Some people naturally smile all the time, others don’t. It doesn’t mean the smiling person is always happy and the more neutral faced person only rarely feels enthusiastic about anything, it’s simply where their face naturally falls. If you want to engage the person or people you’re speaking to, make a conscious effort to smile. Welcome them into your space.

 

You already know what you want to say. Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on the person or people in front of you. Look confident, build up positive expectations, take charge while staying authentic and humble.

 

 

Find common ground

Find commonalities between you and the ones you’re speaking to. Personal or professional, it doesn’t matter. These commonalities are a bridge to close the distance between you and them, while also serving as a conduit into the main topic of discussion you’re about to go into.

A Lesson In Communication For Extroverts

A Lesson In Communication For Extroverts

We often write posts to help the more introverted among us improve their communication skills. The people who don’t know how to start a conversation or keep it going are obviously the ones who need help. The thing is introverts are often actually really great communicators because of their innate skills at listening. We rarely think of offering advice to extroverts because they’re already at the front of the room in full-on communication mode.

 

However just because a person is talking up a storm that doesn’t mean they are great communicators. They could actually be terrible communicators. Their constant talking can be more noise than communication. Their self-absorbed chatter more off-putting than interesting.

 

Get to the point

Some people are so enamored of listening to themselves speak they don’t pay attention to what they’re saying. Or that they lost their audience a long time ago. Not every detail of your story or experience needs to be shared. You don’t need to give more than an example or two of what you’re trying to convey. Strong communicators are concise and to the point. They leave people wanting more. The time for more is in answer to a question at the end.

 

Listen

As we talked about with introverts, one of most important communication skills has nothing at all to do with speaking. It’s all about listening with focus and attention to what the person you are speaking to is saying. That way when you do open your mouth you can actually discuss the topic at hand without dancing around it. Listening doesn’t start and stop with the ears. It involves paying attention to body language (and getting in sync with the person you’re speaking to). It also involves full attention. That means, not thinking about your responses or where the discussion is going, but staying fully with it at all times.

 

Give people space to have their say

Some extroverts get so excited about what they have to say they let their words bowl right over the words of the person they’re speaking with. If you have a tendency to just jump in as soon as a thought enters your head learn to reign it in. Your point will wait – and you won’t lose the respect/attention of the other person. Even if you think you know what the other person is going to say, keep it to yourself. Finishing someone else’s sentence might build camaraderie the first time you do it. After that it diminishes what the other person is trying to say.

 

Maintain eye contact

You know how you know when someone is listening to you. You see it in their eyes. The eyes that are maintaining contact with yours. Conversely, if a person’s eyes are scanning all over the room you can be pretty sure their mind is equally absorbed elsewhere. A distracted mind makes for a distracted conversation.

 

Great communicators put the person in front of them first. The one who is feeling seen and heard – and is happily listening to what they’re being told.

Open Big for Successful Small Talk

Open Big for Successful Small Talk

Are you one of those people who can’t wait to get to a party so you can meet all kinds of new people and talk away the night? Do you relish networking events because you delight in the challenge of speaking to as many people as possible? If so, then this not for you.

 

If on the contrary, small talk and conversations with strangers in general make you want to dive as quickly as you can back under the covers, then carry on.

 

Open the door for conversation

If you’re not big on small talk, but you’re at a party or networking event, questions are a fairly painless way to ease into a conversation. If you can get someone talking then chances are you’ll eventually find something you can join in with. However, not all questions are created equally. Depending on how you phrase the question you could hear an extended detailed answer or it could come in the form of a single word.

 

Open-ended vs. closed-ended

Let’s say for example you know the person you’re talking to was at an interesting lecture the day before. You could ask the question in two general ways:

 

Did you have a good time last night?

Or

How was last night?

 

The first version is a closed-ended question, meaning there’s a good possibility you’ll get a yes or no answer. “Yes, I had a good time.”

 

“How was last night?” Is an open-ended question, meaning it opens the door for further elaboration.  “Last night was really interesting. The speaker had a lot to say about this that and the other. I would recommend her lectures to anyone.”

 

Go through the open door

From here you have options to continue the conversation. You could talk about this, that or the other or other lectures by that speaker or another.

 

Do you think this is a good idea?

 

Wait, better question: What do you think of this idea?