Do you fear having to speak in front of a group? It is a natural but unnecessary fear. Over the years I have learned some simple things that you can do to ease those fears.
1. Know what you are going to say. Just jot down 2 or 3 things, if possible include a story.
2. Slow down. When in front of a group you speak 30% faster than when you are speaking face to face. To you it may seem as if you are dragging out your words, but to the audience you will be speaking normally.
3. Speak face to face. Engage your audience. Nothing will give you more success than to speak to each person in the group. Work with at least the first two rows. Make a point of speaking directly to people in these seats. You might speak to two on the left then work to the right.
4. Avoid the temptation to find one person that seems friendly and speak only to him or her. Your audience will sense it.
5. Finally, Learn to use the pause. Pause for effect or waiting for a point to sink in. This will raise the interest level of your audience. Give them time to respond.
Speaking TIPS – Hands. Once a person gets over the initial fear of speaking publicly, the next obstacle to overcome is what to do with one’s hands. It will help you to be aware of what you do with your hands when you are speaking with a friend. Don’t you just rest them at your sides until you need to make a point? Men are often more animated, having to use their hands to show the “exact” size of that fish they caught last weekend. Women may use their hands in a bouncy sort of way, palms up as if offering you something. Follow these simple guidelines for creating interest in your talk and avoiding potentially threatening behaviors.
- Use your hands as naturally as you can. Start by being aware of how you use the hands with friends.
- Avoid “wringing” your hands.
- Do not “clasp” your hands in front or behind you.
- Never “point” a finger at your audience. You may “count off” points with upraised fingers.
- Your audience will know you are asking a question if you hold hands out, palms out, and give a slight rise to your shoulders.
This will get you started, you will improve as you become more aware of your hands and the important part they play in a successful presentation.
1. Know what you are going to say. Spend time researching and writing a speech that you know will knock their socks off! Include a stories! Go over your speech until you’re familiar with it.
2. Take your time. Slow down. Most people speak 25% faster when in front of an audience. Don’t read your speech word for word. Instead, try to imagine you’re having a conversation with your audience. Better yet, speak as if you’re having a conversation with a group of friends.
3. Be natural, be yourself. Don’t stand there like a mannequin and don’t clutch the sides of the lectern until your knuckles are white. Be natural and animated. Use hand gestures and facial expressions.
4. Make eye contact with the audience. You want to connect with them, get them nodding their heads in agreement. Make them pay attention to you.
5. Vary your voice pitch and speed during your speech. Do this so you don’t sound dull and lifeless. Know when to rev up the excitement and when to slow down to make your points.
1. Never STOP! If you make a mistake it is unlikely that your audience will know if you don’t stop.
2. Never APOLOGIZE! Not for your voice or dress, not for your preparation.
3. Never FEAR, instead turn your nervousness into ENTHUSIASM!
Relax before you Speak
Relaxing your body, face, and voice – find a place alone for this exercise.
1. Stomp one foot then the other.
2. Shake your arms and hands.
3. Open your eyes and mouth wide, then stick out your tongue.
4. Pull your whole face back into a ball.
5. Take deep breaths and make a humming sound while letting them out.
Now you are ready. Knock it out of the park.