Brave the Crowd: 10 Speaking Tips to Fearless

Nov 28, 2012

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Scenario: Your efforts have contributed extensively to company market share. Senior executives have invited you to present during an upcoming annual convention.

When this happens to you, will you be ready? Will you be calm and collected, prepared to address the crowd? Or will your blood pressure go up! Many speakers likely experience dry mouth, a racing heart rate, and sweaty palms as they take the stage.

We all experience fear in one form or another. Public speaking is commonly dreaded. Some statistics place fear of speaking more rampant than fear of snakes or even fear of death. Imagine, greater than fear of death? Recognize that one’s perspective is their reality. Fear only knows what feeds it. The phenomenon known as glossophobia, is the intense anxiety of speaking before a group.

Below, we will discuss 10 time-proven tips to improve your ability to address a large group.

10) Master listening before speaking

Begin to interact with others in such a way that you increase your ability to listen. While conversing, instead of thinking what you might say next, direct your full attention to what the other person is saying. Think only about fully understanding her. This practice prepares you to improve your speaking. It helps you easily recognize speaking cues that make listening more rewarding. Great listeners make better speakers.

9) Aim for the heart

If you want to draw in the crowd, speak to their hearts. People of all shapes and sizes, status, and position are sitting in the audience. Like you, they have feelings that create emotion and energy. People gravitate to speakers who move them. Your audience is not critiquing you, rather they are anxious for you to be successful. Most audiences are very kind and looking forward to the experience.

8) Fluff is for pillows, speak on purpose

This is true of your medium selection as well. Avoid multiple fly-in, fly-out, trapezoid blasts and color bursts throughout your presentation. Instead use materials that allow you convey a message with a purpose. Concise content wins.

7) “Ready–FIRE!–aim” reduces your chances

You can’t hit a target that doesn’t exist. Know your target. Get ready to speak to that specific target. Take aim. Then fire! You will know when you hit the bullseye.

6) Find a mentor. Free advice is too expensive!

Enough said.

5) Body language is vital. Review past speeches with the sound muted

This advice is soundless. Watch your speech visually, purposefully. How do you utilize your body language, stage presence, actions, gestures, and hand movements to add expression and distinction to the words you have formed? Are you pacing? Do you lack energy? Be effective by attracting the glance as well as the mind.

4) Eye to eye connectivity draws in the audience

This refers to seeing people. More than looking in their direction, seeing people in the audience should include reading their faces for emotional feedback, checking for understanding, and perceiving cognition.

3) Humor increases oxygen to the brain. Make them laugh

Spontaneous humor is best. But it takes practice. Typically, you are more apt to be funny if you plan to be. This is not to say that canned humor is funny, generally it is not. But the patterns of humor are effective. For instance, a surprising statement in a list of expected statements will always raise a brow: “I had everything I needed to successfully traverse the rigorous trail on my mountain bike; my helmet, my gloves, and my nurse!”

2) Pause for effect

Pause when you first take the stage. The applause, the side talking, and the rustling of bodies must first fade. Wait at least 10 seconds (to you it will seem like 3 minutes) and the crowd will be more inclined to listen. While speaking, break the pattern. Rambling on and on can be lethal, yet, an effective pause will heighten awareness. This skill must be developed and used subtly in small doses. Too much pausing may be worse than rambling.

1) Smile like you mean it. And mean it

A smiling sales clerk will attract more customers, more friends, and more opportunities. A smiling speaker will create greater reception. Too much smiling and in odd places of the speech, will come across as insincere, however. A true smile will do wonders. After all, the audience will be looking at your face.

Success to you. Enjoy the conference. And where possible, invite someone close to you to attend. They will see the best in you. This can bolster your confidence and provide access to honest feedback.

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