5 November 2008
Fight your fear of speaking in public - follow these simple tips
Public speaking is feared almost as much as death according to a new survey for online learning program Reasontospeak.com conducted by Newspoll. The research shows that 23 per cent of Australians fear public speaking more than death, compared to 27 per cent who ranked death as their number one fear.1
But help is at hand. According to public speaking expert Paul Griffiths, the founder of Reasontospeak.com, there are many ways to overcome the debilitating fear. The full Reasontospeak.com program provides participants with many great tools including the following tips:
- Keep each individual in mind - treat the audience no matter what size it is as individuals. Any audience starts with just one person. Then you add one, then one more and so on. For example, instead of saying 'Good morning all', use 'Good morning to you'. This will appeal a lot more to each individual.
- State the benefit early - at the beginning of every presentation, answer the audience's key question immediately - "What's in it for me?".
- Don't rely on notes - when you read notes you will have your eyes down, head down and hands occupied so your audience will not grasp your passion for the subject. If you have prepared properly/know your subject well you will have no need for notes.
- Maintain your gaze - your eyes are the primary communication device. Try to lock your gaze with each individual member of the audience at least once and do it as early as possible - the first 30 seconds are vital to establish rapport.
- Don't hide behind the lectern - a little movement is a good thing. Before your presentation, look at the lectern and audience seats and determine whether they will be able to see both you and the screen. Be prepared to move during the presentation to offer some visual variety.
- Use your hands to show passion - your hands help your brain enormously by pulling down ideas and are a great way to stress important messages. Moving your arms and hands helps give words life and helps to add light and shade to the presentation.
- If you're inclined to speak fast, make it precise - there's nothing wrong with speaking a little fast as long as it's done with precision. To do so, emphasise the end of words especially 's' 'ly' and 'ed'. This, in itself, will slow you down without chanting 'I must slow down' in your head.
- Emphasise adjectives and adverbs - if you feel that your voice is a little flat or monotonal then emphasise the describing words like adjectives and adverbs. It's these words that add colour, zest and oomph.
- Use small linking words - this is a great way to 'informalise' a presentation by adding small linking words like 'well', 'now' or 'so' between the sentences. It will give the presentation more flow.
- Use the ending to get what you want - many Australians let the end of presentations tail away rather than ending on a high note. The very best finish gives the audience something to do. Give them a 'call to action'.
Reasontospeak.com is a video-based online learning program for people who have to speak in public and want to increase their confidence and motivational ability. It was created by journalist and educator Paul Griffiths who realised that the best way to share his 40 years of experience and extensive knowledge on public speaking to a wide audience was through an online course - available to anyone, anywhere, anytime - online.
The Reasontospeak.com program can cover topics such as management of nerves, basics of planning, selling concepts, moving information to motivation, future orientation, optimal thinking, motivational concepts and so on.
The participant answers 15 qualifying questions before starting the program. Based on those answers, the program then automatically selects about 60 video topics - each one being three minutes long - from a library of more than 200. So, the program is custom-designed to suit every level and all needs, for anybody, anywhere, at anytime - online.
The course is designed to assist beginners and more practised presenters with two options available: Presentation Update Program (PUP), followed by the Executive Suite.
For more information, visit www.reasontospeak.com or call (02) 9144 3975.
1 The study was conducted online in October 2008 among 1,206 adults aged 18 to 64 across Australia. It is reminiscent of a famous study made in the United States in the 1970s which showed that most respondents feared public speaking more than death. Survey respondents were asked which one they fear most from public speaking, heights, death, spiders and closed or confined spaces. Death came first (27%), followed closely by public speaking (23%), spiders (18%), heights (17%) and closed or confined spaces (10%).