Fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears people have. For some people, just thinking about speaking in front of a group brings on anxiety. Whether it’s a lump tightening in their throat, the sensation of sweat starting in the palms, or their heartbeat sounding like horses galloping, prepping for public speaking can make even the most confident person question their abilities.
It’s not easy to overcome your body’s physical response to talking to a group, but with preparation and practice, it can be a little more manageable. This edition of TRIO offers three simple steps to help anyone deliver a memorable message.
When it comes to public speaking, knowing what you’re going to talk about is essential; but, knowing who you’re going to be talking to is equally important. Understanding the audience demographics can help you frame your content, determine the tone of your presentation and ensure that you meet the goals of the group who asked you to speak. For instance, if you’re going to be talking to your peers, you might pepper your speech with current events or jokes. If you’re talking to business professionals, you’ll want everything to be a little more professional and polished. The more information you can gather about the group you’ll be speaking to, the better you can prepare and craft your message to meet their needs.
The average person has more than 2,000 thoughts per hour. How are you supposed to engage your audience so they will block out everything else but you? Start with a story.
By creating a visual image of something for your audience, you help guide their focus away from their to-do list, their email and the person they are sitting next to. A good story will help them forget all of that and focus on you and your message! Stories also help us relate to people. Generally speaking, people have shared common experiences. We all know what it feels like to fail, to fall in love and to experience loss. As a speaker, when you tap into those commonalities, you create a connection that will help your message resonate with your audience. “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath and “Stories that Stick” by Kindra Hall offer great tips on connecting your ideas through images and stories.
No matter how prepared you are to deliver a presentation, if there’s technology involved, you are going to run the risk of something going wrong. There’s really no way to avoid it, but you can be prepared for almost anything that pops up at the last minute.
If you can, visit the room before the day of your presentation. Take notes on the seating arrangement, lighting and sound. Determine if you need to adjust your presentation based on what you’ve seen. Is the screen small? Consider making your fonts larger. Is there a lot of natural light? Think about changing the color of your presentation slides. Can the people in the back of the room hear you? If not, ask for a microphone. Does your presentation require sound? Be sure it works. If you’re presenting in a new location and want to be prepared, you might want to consider putting together a presentation kit that contains all of your essentials. Being familiar with the meeting space and the equipment you’ll be using can do wonders in preventing any day-of distractions.
If you’d like to know more about how to deliver a message that people remember, sign up for our Public Speaking short course. It will focus on elements of speech and principles of effective speaking in public. Emphasis is placed on performance and skills in preparing and presenting a public speech. To register click here or call 405.377.3333. To find out about more courses like this sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. View all of our upcoming courses in our digital catalog.
Cara Adney is the Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator at Meridian Technology Center.