Posted by: Dahni | May 19, 2008

Public Speaking Tips

05/19/08

   Recently, I received an email about tips for public speaking. I edited the material and added some more from my own experiences. I shared this material with other friends and associates and would like to share it with you. I hope you find the information useful and beneficial.

Just Imagine,

Dahni

Public Speaking Tips

   Once you answer these questions, you can begin the actual development of your speech or public presentation.

I am or I am becoming an Expert

   With your end result in mind, it is now your job to become an expert on your topic.

I have done my Research

   What you are to be speaking on and to whom you will be speaking (if known), requires that you have as much knowledge as possible to be confident in what you will say. The Internet, magazines, books and people in the field of your chosen topic are excellent resources for information to help make you an expert in the field. While researching, it is important to look for quotable information that you may cite in your speech as this can add impact to your message. However, one of the most valuable resources you have is your own experiences, especially for impromptu speeches.

Organize and Write

   For many people, this is the most difficult and strenuous part of the entire speech, putting it together. In reality, this should be the easiest part if you have followed the right steps in getting here. Here are some things to remember that will make writing the speech easier:

Practice

   The most important part of public speaking is actually the delivery. You may have written the greatest speech ever, but if it is delivered poorly, no one may even pay attention to your message. So to avoid this pitfall of public speaking, there is only one solution, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and PRACTICE! The most important part of practice is that it must be out loud. The reason for this is that you are able to hear parts that don’t sound quite right and find areas that give you trouble. Even more so, the more often you give the speech the more comfortable you will become with giving it, and during your presentation you will look comfortable. Practice in front of a mirror and observe your eye contact and facial expressions. If and whenever possible, record your speech and listen to it as if you were hearing it for the very first time. Go outside and practice giving your speech to the trees and imagine them as your audience. If anyone sees you they may think you odd, but they may also, just become interested in your message.  🙂

Types of Speeches

Impromptu

   Unfortunately, most impromptu speeches cannot be practiced, but you can practice giving impromptu speeches and this will help your mind work when you must give the real one. Use many of these same strategies for developing the ideas that will fit into your speech and create a quick outline of how you want the speech to flow.

Standard

   This is the most common type of speech that people give and can often pose a lot of difficulty. Use the speech sandwich as much as possible when giving this type of speech. Have strong main points, a strong introduction and a lasting conclusion.

Keynote

   Quotes and stories are the key to making a speech of this length and type. Keep the interest of the audience. Also, consider ways to involve the audience in your speech. i.e. “Have you ever been afraid of speaking in front of a large group, I was or I am.”

   Explain to yourself and maybe to your audience, why you are afraid.

  • “I am afraid something will go wrong.” 

   Tell yourself why you shouldn’t be afraid.

  • “No one has ever laughed at me during my previous presentations.”
  • “I am a smart and outgoing person.”
  • Never think you need to be perfect in order to succeed
  • Do Not try to please everyone. People are diverse. It is likely that each individual member of the audience will respond differently to your presentation. It is unrealistic to expect to please all of them and you should not try to.
  • Expecting the worst. Believe that you will succeed and you are already more than halfway there. The negative outcomes you might imagine will rarely, if ever occur and even if they do, you can use them to your advantage. Simply prepare for the worst, but ALWAYS EXPECT THE BEST! Humor is a great tool for turning a minor disaster into a memorable teaching moment.

_____________________________________________________________

Fear & the Butterflies

(in public speaking)

By Dahni © 2008

   On the subject of fear and butterflies, there have been many different opinions as to HOW to handle what you may be feeling, before and during your presentation. Having given 100’s if not 1,000’s of speeches and presentations, and to 1,000’s if not 10’s of thousands of people, I do know a little something about this. I have been in almost every type of situation possible and I offer my personal experience to you here.

   One of the most common suggestions by even some of the top speech trainers in handling fear is, to imagine your audience seated in only their underwear. Now why would you want to do that? Why would you want to view your audience in such a demeaning manner, just so you are more comfortable? NEVER EVER DO THIS!!!!

   Memorize your speech. If you are afraid of giving your presentation, I can almost guarantee you with 100% certainty, you will forget the speech you have memorized at the very moment you are to give it. It is very similar to ‘cramming for a test.’ in school. After the test is over, most people cannot recall the information. RARELY IF EVER, MEMORIZE YOUR SPEECH!!!! Use 3″ X 5″ note cards with your outline, quotes and key points you want to make. These notes will jog your memory. To follow, you will soon see how you won’t even need note cards! If you memorize, there will not be room for unexpected and wonderful surprises. Besides all of that, your audience does not want to be bored and I don’t want to be bored in doing the same thing over and over again. Make each presentation different. Make it sparkle and make it shine for them and for you.

Fear

   OK, what is fear? One of the best definitions for fear I have ever heard is an acronym: F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real. We have a tendency to fear what we do not know or that which is unknown, but in giving a speech, we are NOT talking about fear, but what I call the ‘butterflies.’

   If you have done your research, know your subject, have become an expert, have practiced and if possible, know the audience (personally or by reputation, position, their fields etc.), THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO FEAR!!!!

Butterflies

   So if it is not fear, what are these butterfly feelings, flitting around as if inside the pit of your stomach? It is nervous energy. Energy is received and energy is given during every speech or presentation. Your audience is expecting to receive something from you and you should be expecting to give to them. I’ll share more about this dynamic relationship later.

   In my opinion, one of the greatest speech makers or storytellers was Russell H. Conwell. A book called ‘Acres of Diamonds’ by Conwell, came out of a speech he gave over 6,000 times, to people all over the world. Though the book and the story are fascinating, how he prepared to give each speech was even greater.

   Conwell would arrive in each location where he was to give his speech, sometimes a day or days ahead. He would find out about the area and its people from the postman and other locals. When it came time to deliver the actual speech, it was tailor made and customized with local names, characters and stories. This is how to do research and how to really ‘know’ your audience. Check out Conwell on the web and even order his book ‘Acres of Diamonds.’

Secret of the Ancient Greek Orators

   In ancient Greece (ancient Rome too), orators were fond of and known for their often long and flowery speeches. People would marvel at the delivery of such speeches, but more so at the orator which so simply and effortlessly seemed to recall from memory, such detail and elaborate material. Were these orators all geniuses or did each possess a photographic memory? How did they do it? They had a secret, a system, and I am going to share it with you!

   What they did was associate each part of their speech to an actual ‘place’ in their own home. These were called loci or “places.” The first place might be the front door to their home. To this day, in writing and in the giving of speeches, we often read or hear the well worn phrase, “in the first place,” or even, “my first point I wish to make is…” This comes exactly from loci or “places.”

   The second part of their speech or second place might have been their foyer and on and on this went, throughout their home. Each place was associated with some part of their speech. When the orator wanted to recall their speech thought for thought, they would take a mental tour of their own homes.

   Now close your eyes and imagine your own living room. It is easy to do because it is ‘familiar’ to you. You have been there countless times. Could you describe to me that has perhaps, never been to your home, where to find your sofa? Of course you could and with great detail, how many steps from the front door, which direction would I turn, what color the couch is and on and on. Could you do this with your eyes open or closed? Absolutely! Why is this possible? It is possible because, it is ‘familiar’ to you.

   To add your speech, (the ‘unfamiliar’), to the ‘familiar’ (your home), make it strange, bizarre etc. like your front door becoming stone. The key is to associate everything in your speech (the ‘unfamiliar’), with everything inside your home that is ‘familiar.’ In practicing this, you will develop what is called a ‘trained memory’ and very similar to a photographic memory. You can recall any detail, address, number, event, name, face and in essence almost anything, even long passages and quotes. Words are pictures and all you are doing is adding pictures or redecorating your own home, every time you deliver a speech.

   Practice this in delivering your presentation. Your speech has individual parts starting with the ‘first place,’ which could be the theme or title of your speech. Let’s say it is on fishing. Your front door could be a large fish. Your foyer could have a purple lake on the wall with a flashing bright orange neon sign, which buzzes loudly and reads: Lake Lotta Fish. And so on and so forth, all the way through your home. You just mentally hang, place or decorate with every point of your speech in an unfamiliar way, to that which is familiar (your own home). The more strange or bizarre and the more detail and senses used (sight, smell, sound etc.), the easier it becomes to recall. You will also most likely, NEVER, EVER FORGET IT EITHER!!!

   Now here is another reason you should NOT picture your audience seated in their underwear. Not only would it be disrespectful to your audience, it would be distracting to you. You are comfortable and even though your eyes may be open, you are mentally just inside your own home. You are in essence, bringing people into your mental home where you are comfortable and familiar. You are giving them a tour of your speech, inside your home. Your desire is for them to be comfortable as well. Here is where those little butterflies flitting in your stomach come into play.

   Those ‘butterflies’ are NOT afraid, they are excited. In a single word, this sensation is NOT fear, it is, EXCITEMENT!

   You are excited to share your story, presentation or speech as you would be excited to entertain a family member, friend or guest in your home. Hospitality is simply taking care of your company. You want them to be comfortable.

   Let’s say that five people come over to your home on a regular basis. Every time these five people come to your home they always want water. After awhile, you finally bring out five glasses of water, every time they come and even before anyone asks. This is to ‘know’ your audience.

   Now suppose the next time these same five people show up, a new person is with them. In addition to five glasses of ‘familiar’ water, would you put out a sixth glass or would you ask or try to understand what this person might like? Perhaps, they would like a cup of tea and you are just so excited about this because, maybe you like tea yourself and just got some brand new tea you can share. This is what the ‘butterflies’ are all about. You plan your very best, but then someone just might need something else, you never planned to share.

   No two presentations will ever be same. If they are or if you do not have the ‘butterflies’ each and every time you make a presentation, something is wrong. People are different and have different needs. Plan your mental-home-party and always make sure you have extra and even extra and different things, just in case someone new shows up. That’s the purpose of your research, having more than you need and knowing where to get it if you do. There is always another room, loci, or place where you have all kinds of stuff that your guests don’t usually get to see.

   Another way to explain those ‘butterflies’ is, like having your own surprise birthday party. You know it is your birthday, but you have no idea who will show up. They all bring gifts (their ears, minds and hearts to hear your presentation). You may have no idea what is inside the presents (their minds and hearts), but you cannot wait to find out!!!   🙂

   I know of no other way to explain this, but something wonderful happens between you and your audience. It is almost magical. It is the ‘butterflies’ in you and the anticipation in your audience. It’s magnetic. They are drawn to you and you to them. You are excited because, you never know who might show up, what they may need and what other unplanned room (‘place’ or loci), in your mental home you will get to share with them. In the countless speeches and presentations I have made throughout my life, there have been many times that I have NOT said things I planned to say. There have been other times I have said things I never even thought about saying, before I did. Every person in your audience should be thought of, as your very special guest, and you may not know what they need until they show up. This is the result of not being afraid, but so very glad to have those beautiful and now ‘familiar’ ‘butterflies’!

Final Tidbits

   Some professional speech makers and organizations actually teach that the speaker should stay in the same position. I have often seen little carpets placed underneath podiums. This was done, not to make the speaker more comfortable from standing a long time, but to keep them from moving around. If you have been taught this or find these little pieces of carpet, stand on them if it makes you comfortable, otherwise set them aside. Remember, those ‘butterflies’ are nervous energy (not being nervous, just nervous energy). You need to move around for yourself and your audience. Walk over to one side of the room. Then walk to the other side. Actually speak to one or more persons in your audience (if you know them or if not). It’s like there are no other people in the room except for this other person and yourself. It’s like two people just getting to know each other for the first time. You will be amazed at how positive and attentive your entire audience will respond to this!!!

   You do want to sufficiently inform your audience during your presentation, but they also want to be entertained. Without being a clown or losing respect, do something unique. Tell stories, jokes and if you mess them up, laugh about it and so will your audience. They will be laughing with you, but not at you. Even hecklers will shut up if you can find some way to agree with them. A soft answer turns away anger, ridicule and a host of other unpleasantness.

   Always remember, it is your presentation just like it is your home. You deal with a person in your audience just as you would in your home. If a guest would not behave, what would you do, become afraid or ask them to leave?

   Are people falling asleep, restless or not paying attention? Maybe it’s you, but if you are prepared, excited, and informative and entertaining, chances are it is not you, it’s just them. I used to get upset over people falling asleep. First I made sure it was not me boring them. Then I decided to just let them sleep. How was I supposed to know how much sleep they did or did not get the night before? Besides, it is their privilege, free seat or not. You could actually make a joke about it (especially if you can hear them snoring), with something like, “Hmmm, I guess I am about as exciting as watching paint dry? You will be amazed at how often they wake up and begin to pay attention and all without you mentioning their name or drawing attention to them. I mean, what would you do if someone fell asleep in your home? You would most likely let them sleep and maybe even put a blanket over them. You certainly would not embarrass them or call attention to them.

   Finally, just have fun J.H.F.S.T.P – Just Have Fun Sharing The Presentation! I hope you find this information helpful and beneficial.

   Oh and by the way, I once memorized a speech (my very first one). I did my research, I was prepared and I knew my presentation forwards, backwards, sideways and inside out. But I did not know the difference between fear and the ‘butterflies.’ So I acted like I was afraid. I tripped over the microphone cord and nearly knocked over the podium. When I recovered from that and for the first time was face to face with my audience, I could only recall the title of my presentation. That was easy because it was the same as all the other speakers. Now I understand and I no longer have fear, I welcome the ‘butterflies,’ but I never, ever, memorize my presentation. Happy touring in your place!

Sincerely,

Dahni Hayden


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