i recently attended a two-day conference where i listened to several different speakers weighing-in on a range of topics. one speaker ended many of her sentences with an upward inflection, which to me suggested a lack of confidence in what she was saying. another speaker droned on in a sleep-inducing monotone voice and would periodically –and consistently –insert an annoying “um.” not everyone is comfortable speaking in front of an audience: according to some estimates, 75 percent of all people experience some degree of anxiety or nervousness when it comes to public speaking. in fact, there’s a word that means fear of public speaking: glossophobia. what could some of the speakers i listened to have done to improve their presentation style? it will help you flesh out the story you want to tell in the most natural language for you. but be careful: you don’t want to stand in front of your audience and simply read a script.
i change the words even as i read it. what if you were able to sit in the audience and listen to yourself present? but even an audio recording is enough to help you identify problems–and fix them. it might make you feel awkward at first, but at least you’ll have the chance to surface problems and fix them before you get in front of an audience. some people seem to be naturally endowed with the ability to go on stage and deliver a flawless presentation without rehearsing. even the best speakers i know make a point of spending time to practice before going up in front of a crowd. there’s one more suggestion to consider as you take the stage: engage your audience. even briefly mentioning someone in the room can create a stronger sense of connection between the speaker and the audience one speaker, for example, called out an audience member and discussed a project they had worked on together recently as an example of “best practice” project management.
my friends used to make fun of me in front of the girls, but that didn’t change a thing. the ability to speak in public isn’t something you are born with. i thought it for a while and decided to withdraw from the competition. i was looking at the audience in the eyes; whereas a few years ago i could not think about it. i ended the speech with a feeling of accomplishment. with strong determination, i overcame my fear of public speaking and learned to enjoy it. i’ve read a couple of books on public speaking.
i watched hundreds of hours of videos to learn the subtleties of public speaking. it’s completely normal to feel the pressure in front of a large audience. here’s the twist: a duck has to constantly paddle underwater to keep it afloat and move it forward. observing and then imitating patrick jane taught me to deliver my speech in a way that people want to listen to. before any presentation, i practice in front of the mirror until i’m satisfied with my performance. i don’t like the idea of showing my half-baked performance to others. everything i did to change myself from that introvert little boy to this fearless public speaker is in this article.
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