Some truths about public speaking…

After a recent presentation, I was told “You were great – but I could never speak publicly it’s too scary” this article is for Julia, “yes you can do it, just have an open mind!”

Top Ten Myths About Public Speaking

  1. I’m not a public speaker. Reality Check: We all speak in public. Public speaking goes far beyond standing on a stage in front of 100 people. We’re presenting ourselves all the time. In fact, life is one big presentation.
  2. Don’t talk with your hands. Reality Check: Expressive, dynamic speakers use their hands. Speakers who don’t use any hand movement appear stiff. So let your hands speak for themselves.
  3. Look over the heads of the audience. Reality Check: Look directly at key individuals. We connect with each other through our eyes. Effective speakers look at a few people, one at a time. This creates a relationship, and it’s less scary giving your message to each person than to a large crowd.
  4. Memorize your speech. Reality Check: It’s more effective to memorize concepts, not words. If you forget a word, you can make your point another way or go on to a new point. Your audience will not know the difference. When possible, avoid using manuscripts. Notes and outlines will better help you to stay on track.
  5. Stand in one place. Reality Check: Purposeful movement can be dynamic. Watch some of the top speakers, like President Bill Clinton, Tony Robbins, and Les Brown. They work the crowd. They move across the platform. By doing this, you’ll increase the energy in the audience.
  6. Always use a lectern. Reality Check: There’s only one reason to use a lectern: to hold your notes. Use a lectern only when you have to speak from a manuscript. Otherwise, you risk giving a presentation that will be perceived as formal and stiff.
  7. Cover all your points in your speech. Reality Check: Consider the time frame and modify your talk. Give three major points instead of six. Condense your examples. Tell shorter stories. People will be more likely to remember your speech if you take this approach instead of trying to squeeze too much into too short a window of time.
  8. Start with a joke. Reality Check: Don’t do it. You don’t have to be funny to be effective. Use humor or irony instead of telling a joke. Or, simply start with a story or a quote. Throw away the jokes. More often than not, they backfire.
  9. Turn off the lights to show slides. Reality Check: In total darkness, your audience members will fall asleep. And they’ll be startled when you turn the lights back on. Use a dimmer instead. Give people enough light to see the slides, and be sure you can see their faces as well.
  10. You shouldn’t be nervous. Reality Check: You can control and manage nervousness, but you can’t eliminate it. For most of us, the fear of making a presentation never really goes away. Even the top speakers get nervous. Some nervousness is good for you. It keeps you dynamic. The goal is to channel your nervous energy into a positive performance.