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Improving Public Speaking Skills!

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My biggest challenge in life was to overcome the fear of public speaking. All through my school and college life, I avoided participating in elocution and debates only because of this fear. Recently, I had to give a demo to my seniors on a CBT I created. The thought of standing before ace speakers and delivering a talk was daunting. But I decided to tackle my fear with this chance. I searched online for tips on doing away the fear of public speaking and here are some useful tips I found:

  • Connect with listeners: Focus on topics that your audience can relate to. The opening message should make the difference because if you talk about any other subjects, your audience’s interest can wane.
  • Understand your audience: Choose relevant topics to hook your audience. Understand your audience and their tastes to arrive at interesting topics. They will look forward to your presentation and enjoy it.
  • Be optimistic: Creating an optimistic environment and hinting on the kind of presentation that the audience really wants to hear are appealing factors. A pessimistic approach makes the speaker look helpless before an expectant audience.
  • Be concise: Keep your speech or presentation short and snappy. If possible, end it a few minutes earlier than the scheduled time. Put in a dash of fun by adding relevant metaphors to hold your audience’s interest till the end.
  • Use an engaging title: If you have crafted an engaging presentation, why neglect the title? An appealing title will evoke your audience’s interest. It should be the red carpet to your presentation as it offers a gist of your subject in a unique way.
  • Keep your closing statement short: While ending your presentation, avoid recapping each and every thing. Keep your closing statement short and to the point and convey your message succinctly.
  • Practice: Practice quite a few times to gain confidence. Stand in front the mirror and run through your presentation. Or better still, videotape it. Ask your colleague or friend to observe you and offer helpful feedback. If you need any props such as charts or photos, have them with you during rehearsals. Videotaping can point out any faux pas which you can correct. Learn how to operate the projector or any multimedia equipment and make sure that function well. Continuous practice will make you confident.
  • Know your subject well: Keep index cards with important points or phrases handy during your presentation. Interact with the audience, don’t be rigid or sound monotonous and boring.

And yes, my presentation went very well.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

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  • This is what I did to develop and improve my public speaking skills.

    1. Join Toastmasters International – This global organisation comprises thousands of local speakers clubs where you can learn and hone your skills in non-threatening and supportive surroundings.

    2. Sign up to a public speaking course – I did this to gain qualifications but you may want to do it simply to learn techniques in speech development and delivery from experts.

    3. Hire a voice coach – A mentor who will show you how to warm-up and excercise your whole body as well as your voice, how to breath correctly, how to project your voice and how to make your voice more interesting and pleasant to listen to.

    4. Enjoy the experience – once you’ve overcome the intial nerves you will find speaking in public really becomes a fun experience and something you’ll want to do more and more.

  • Chrissie Hawkes

    Best tip I got was to ‘Breathe’ 7 counts in, hold 1 then out 7 before you start and do this whenever you need to during the presentation

  • It is very helpful to meet with a voice coach and learn the basics of how your voice operates. Once you understand these core teachings, it is easier to gain control of how you speak in any situation. Think of your voice as an instrument that you need to learn, like a violin or piano. You will make stronger impression if you study with an expert than if you just improvise!

  • Uday Tewary

    All your comments are really good.
    To add my personal experience, as I can’t afford videotaping practicing in front of a mirror boosted my confidence.
    Secondly, believe in your self.. act like a pro.
    Last but not the least Practice.. Practice..and Practice

    regards

    Uday Tewary

  • When people want to improve their guitar playing, they don’t just read. They pick up the guitar and practice. Similarly, if you want to improve your public speaking skills, you need to speak in public and practice. Yes, you can read all the tips you want such as these posted here Asma, but unless you get out there and practice you won’t see any effective improvement.

    Here enters Toastmasters International. Thousands of local clubs across the world provide a safe and supportive environment for members to practice their public speaking. Each club has their own distinct atmosphere and clubs meet during all days of the week and times of day to fit your schedule. You can find a tool on the Toastmaster website (click on my name) to find clubs near you. Don’t hesitate to visit nearby clubs as a guest to find one that you are comfortable with and discover why Toastmasters works effectively.

    I’d like to reiterate that this only works if you are willing to put the work in. You can join Toastmasters, but unless you show up to meetings, get up and speak, your public speaking will not improve. If you are someone who may buy a gym membership but don’t have the will power to go the gym and actually work out, then Toastmasters is very likely not for you.

  • Solomon

    The first presentation is always the most frightening. Because people have the tendency to want to deliver their best presentation (be realistic, it will never happen), they start to memorise their best lines (some literally word for word) and “put unnecessary pressure on themselves”.

    This is the worst preparation you can ever make as you are bound to forget your scripts in such pressurised situation and you will start to panic where your mind goes blank and you’ll stammer and ruin your presentation.

    You attitude should be this: Just get the job done on your maiden presentation. Nothing fancyful.

    If you are not good in remembering your points, there is no harm in writing them on a small piece of paper and use your own words (nothing to memorise here) to elaborate on them. You do not need to look good – just get the job done. Remember that “Rome is not built in one day”.

    Just before the presentation, tell yourself again and again to “enjoy” the presentation and smile to yourself – this will calm your nerves.

    When you start your delivery, remember to speak slowly with a measured and controlled voice. This will give you time to think and help you to control your nerves as you are concentrating on your voice and words you are saying and nothing else. Lastly, try to remind yourself to “enjoy” and smile as often as you can when you are delivering your presentation as this will calm you down further and help you to enjoy the presentation.

    Going forward, the secret to become a good speaker is to take up drama or acting classes. Good speakers must be able to invoke emotions, response and attention from the audience. It is through such drama training can a person learn and hone such cutting edge skills.

    “Good speakers are good actors”.

  • Be prepared, really prepared so that you know your subject from as many angles as you can possibly think of. Then you get good confidence and a calm impression.
    Try you presentation on someone you know that you know is honest in what he/she think about your performance so you can get a couple of pointers on your presentation from.
    Don’t be afraid of being quiet and let the audience think about what you are saying.
    Still, my first pointer is in my mind the most important thing.

    Best regards
    Per

  • Roland Fuchs

    I would stress that appearance, confidence, etc. all stem from the quality and reliabilty of the material you are presenting. It needs to be put together well and the technology used must work. Accessories such as water, pointers, etc. also must be in place. The speaker is then free to … speak. That is when pratice, looks, stance and so forth come into their own. But note, even great performers feel terrified (the British comedian Tony Hancock was physically sick before performances). But there are ways around this, one of which is be determined to enjoy the moment!

  • Barbara Sharon Ben Guy

    Hi,

    Before all if you speak in front of an audience, besides being ready and practicing your speech in front of the mirror or for family members/friends, one has to pay good attention to his physical look. What he wears, his hair, shoes, nails etc. One might think this is just a minor factor in his speech, however it has a great influence on the impression he makes, specially when he represents a company.

    Good luck to all,

    B SH BG

  • lakshmi

    I also think that these 3 ideas are also very important:

    1. Being relevant
    2. Being current ( giving examples from now)
    3. Being Credible

  • In a previous job I was a tour guide and thus was forced to speak in front of crowds of up to 70 to 100 if we were extremely busy. In this job you also speak to several age groups, genders, races, religions, and so forth. This kind of speaking to people on a regular basis certainly helps you become comfortable. But what about when you are put in the situation where people may be judging what comes out of your mouth i.e. they are being taught or lecture by you, or perhaps it is a presentation for work and they are your boss? In these situations the normal tactics can help. These being focusing on the person(s) that make you feel comfortable, or rehearsing to a mirror. However we all know that the mirror disappears quickly once the time comes. So my advice would be speak from confidence. Know your material, become comfortable with what you are going to say, and must importantly believe in what you are saying. Giving off confidence in your material is much more effective than the material you are presenting.

  • Jason Rumanek

    Everyone knows that speaking in public is very scary for a lot of people. To learn how to become an effective public speaker and communicator, I would recommend that you join your local Toastmasters group. This organization provides you with a positive environment whereby you can learn how to become a better speaker. Some tips they provided me include know your presentation, know your audience, do not read it from your notes, keep it short, do not talk with your hands a lot and do not use filler words (um, ah, so, like).

  • I equate making a presentation in front of a group to a theatrical performance. So the best advice I can give to you is rehearse your presentation over and over again until it comes second nature so that when you are in front of a group you look comfortable and in control.

  • I wholeheartedly agree with the advice to join a Toastmasters club. I was a member of a club for four years when I was considering whether to launch my own freelance writing business (which I did severn years ago). Meetings were held in a business setting with professionals from the business and other businesses nearby. I speak well one-to-one but I needed to overcome my fear of speaking in front of groups. Attending the weekly meetings for four years “forced” me to practice on a regular basis. I found the experience educational and fun. It was a non-threatening and supportive environment and I learned a LOT.

    I completed the first 10 speeches to earn the Competent Toastmaster (CTM) designation and the lessons learned have benefited all facets of my business. I am a better speaker and writer as a result. I still get nervous but I control the emotions and find it much easier to focus on the content and intent of the communication rather than my nervousness.

    I highly recommend Toastmasters!

  • Ian Straus

    I improved through Toastmasters, an organiztion which I recommend to you. And which has a methodical program, based on practise and coaching one another.
    http://www.toastmasters.org/

    From time to time I have seen survey data which indicated more people express a fear of public speaking than of anything else including death. However that does not mean fear of public speaking is more intense, only that it is more common.

    Nevertheless fear of public speaking can seriously limit opportunities in life.
    And the same training methods which enable people to overcome fear of death will overcome fear of speaking.

    The best tip is “practice”. Public speaking is a performance skill like playing basketball. Would you expect to be a better basketball player after getting a list of tips, or after actually playing and being coached? How long would you expect to retain any increment in skill you might get from a list of tips, compared to the increment of skill you would get by actually playing and being coached?

  • By focusing on the intense desire I had to empower the people attending my trainings on personality type with skills to truly understand themselves and others, I was able to move beyond my fear of public speaking.

  • Suzi McNicholas

    Yes, practice is very important – I like to stand up in a room and say it out loud. If possible, go to the room you’ll be presenting in and practice there ahead of time. It’s great to get to know the room before its full of people. And share yourself a little bit with your audience. People like to hear your stories. Be real. The more authentic you are, the more you’ll capture your audience. Even in a business setting. In fact, probably more so in a business setting than any other place. They don’t want jargon, they want an authentic experience. This has always worked well for me when it comes to speaking in public.

  • Hi Everyone,
    I’ve been a live performer, voice actor and event host for years, and while there is no substitute for actual event-specific experience, I can offer a few tips that have helped me grow as a live presenter/educator/entertainer. Here’s a little different angle to reach into the hearts, and psyches of your audience.

    1- Know your audience not just the obvious ways – do whatever research is necessary to unearth a common thread between you and them- and not just details about the subject matter; I mean finding a personal connection to who the group is.
    When we really know who we’re reaching out to, in a human sense, the chasm between the front of the room and the seats is bridged naturally.

    2- Know your natural connecting point with people- for me it’s with humor. I have a genius for putting people at ease by subtly finding the humorous aspects of what we’re talking about, learning, even disagreeing about! It’s a fabulous tool when it’s genuine, a sure way to bomb if its not!

    3- Be prepared, prepared, prepared! So you can be comfortable to speak from your innate wisdom – being flexible to the needs of the moment takes courage, pluck and confidence in your knowledge base of the material and audience. And if you are able to stay in your center and speak from that place you will reach them and they will be moved.
    I also recommend taking the PSR method of voice study/public speaking. It comes from the UK and is fabulous.
    4- Be honest with yourself about how you are feeling the day of the event. I find that if I don’t try to be a version of myself that I’m not relating to that day, I can be authentically and fully who I am, and be more present with my audience. Let’s be honest – we are all a little bit different in our lives every day, so why should a presentation, or information about our company/ services be the same every time we give it?
    I hope this is useful to all of you speakers, and aspiring presenters!

    Cheers,
    Sissy Siero

  • Steve Chorny

    The best advice I can give is the following:

    Stage time, stage time, stage time.

    What do I mean by that? Public speaking is about getting out in front of an audience and speaking. You can take all of the advice online and in books and seminars but if you do not spend time in front of an audience it will never work.

    Get out in front on an audience and experiment. Try different things. Break the rules. But try and learn and evolve.

    There is an old joke that goes something like this>

    ……. a tourist asks someone in New York, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” The New Yorker answers, “Practice, practice, practice.”

  • Ashuma

    Hello Friends,

    I also strongly think Toast Masters is the right platform to improve Public Speaking. The environment is encouraging and one get’s specific feedback instantly.

    Of course , nothing beats Opportunities to practice it real time.

    Most Important point i think while giving presentation is know the audience “What’s in it for them”, and then an art to influence them the right way.

    I encourage you , believe me you will get addicted and with every success , there will be hunger for more.

  • I agree with Paul. Preparation is key for me. I find great comfort in knowing my material so well that I don’t really need any notes. The delivery is much more relaxed and natural that way. It also helps to have a personal connection to the topic. When one is passionate about a topic and has firsthand experiences and anecdotes to share, it brings the presentation to life.

    This is also true of facilitating a training program, where you have to surrender a bit of the control. Being able to think on your feet and adjust your program as required helps make it meaningful for the participants.

    While the fear is real, it can be overcome by pushing yourself. As a painfully shy child who threw herself into speech club, school plays, and later a career in training, I am a believer in the “just do it” philosophy.

  • Judy

    Practice, Practice, Practice

    You need to believe in your topic and be prepared.

    You need to decide who you are going to be when you present. Considering that presenting is like theatre, if you don’t have a naturally theatrical style you might consider taking the role of actor. It is often easier to present if you step into someone else’s shoes.

  • Barry Weissman

    Know your material – inside and out. By knowing your material, you will not feel threatened if someone asks you a question or you lose your place in your notes.

    I would also recommend getting involved with Toastmasters International – an organization that helps men and women improve their communication skills.

  • The points highlighted by Praveen are important skills in being able to effectively communicate. However one skill needs to be added to the list, Voice Projection. The skill of being able to put controlled strength and clarity into your voice has an immediate impact on the attention of the audience.

    I have often been disappointed when attending a presentation at the poor quality of the presenters. Although the presenter is well qualified on skills and has very good material, the quality of delivery is poor in clarity of voice. A skilled speaker is able to be heard clearly by small audiences without microphones.

    In fairness to presenters, I grew up with what I now recognise as poor quality of speech. Two years ago, I started seeing a speech coach one evening each week. The lady is professional in coaching executives.

    Patsy, the speech coach revisited the basics of voice control. This involved the correct pronunciation of words and learning how to put life into your voice by using your chest to control your breathing properly.

    The ability to know when to alter the pitch of voice in response to the structure of sentences is a lost art for most people.

    The investment in seeing a speech coach has given me discipline over the single most important communication tool when speaking – my voice.

    I reccommend seeing a speech coach to anyone who realises the importance of speaking with clarity.

    Posted 22 hours ago | Delete comment

  • Sissy Siero really hit the nail on the head. Personally, I stopped scripting and practicing after my script and slides were lost in transit and I didn’t know it until minutes before I had to speak for an hour in front of 2500 people. What could I do? I just told myself to “Let go and let God.” It turned out to be the best talk I had ever given. I’ve never written a script or practiced a speech since. When your message and material are engraved on your heart and ingrained in your mind, you are free. Vocal inflections, modulation, and excitement are natural because you are speaking from the heart. Your heart is smarter and more eloquent than your head! When you know yourself and your audience, and you connect them together at the heart, it just flows. Your head has to remember everything, but your heart can effortlessly provide everything you need in the instant you need it.

    There IS one kind of practice I highly recommend and you don’t need a stage or a mirror to practice it. It’s to practice self-awareness everywhere, all the time, in all circumstances. Be a constant observer of how you think and talk. Eliminate jargon. Eliminate “I, me, and my” as much as you can. And eliminate “vocal litter” such as “um”, “ya know”, “like”, etc. Make concise, clean, clear articulation a habit. If you can do this in your life, you’ll naturally do it on stage.

  • Gerhard Greeff

    The three P’s are critical: Prepare, prepare, prepare
    Then it would be best to start presenting ideas young, as soon as possible in your career. This can even be on a one-on-one basis with only you and the boss. This will teach you how to structure your presentation and give you confidence.
    After I have been giving presentations to customers, at conferences and presenting training for a number of years, I found Toastmasters International. I wish I actually found them earlier in my career as I would have been a lot better by now. You can do presentations and speak in public as many times as you like, you can read as many atricles as you like, but without feedback or positive critisism you will keep on making the same mistakes when you talk in public. This non-threatening, non-judgemental and supporting environment is conducive to learning from your mistakes and as it is not work-related, you can talk on anything to give you confidence. This Toastmasters brought to me.
    I recommend you look for a club close to you.
    I have seen, heard and even practiced a work-related speech myself at a club meeting. How great is it to practice a speech and get feedback of what works and what not from people that have no vested interest?

  • Lee E Devine

    honest self assesment and listening to critique…
    Sometimes that is the hardest part of learning the skill of public speaking. You think you did a great job only to find out that you lost your audience 30 seconds into the presentation.
    My first presentation was so long ago that I couldn’t tell you what I did to prepare. I remember the fear and terror that I was feeling. I remember that it went rather well considering wha could have gone wrong….
    I got better with practice and listening to the comments from coworkers and the “boss” about what needed to be improved.
    To this day I practice the night before for cadence and body movements in front of a full length mirror. I know who my audience is prior to even starting the process. I tailor my presentation to that audience.

    Tips I would give:
    Don’t lecture… Involve the audience, ask questions, ensure that your message is getting out there. Even if it is as simple as “what do you think, Bob?”
    Have a handout if possible that allows people to follow along or review something without interupting the show.
    MAKE THE SLIDES SIMPLE – if you are using presentation software, keep the slide big and simple. Talk about the point but don’t put your every word on the slide and try to read it… if you do that, why are you up presenting you could just hand out a report and say read it….
    So many people say to do this and hardly anyone does… Practice in front of the mirror… sometimes something looks great on paper but when you say it it sounds lewd or gross or just plain stupid… the only way you will know is to say it out loud… Besides how are you going to get your timing down…
    Which brings me to my last tip….DON’T use too much time.. If they say you have 15 min to make a presentation stay at 15 min not 10 min not 20 min, not 16 min, 14 would be ok when people start looking at their watchs you are either boring them to death or you are taking too much time.

    There you have my 10 min soap box about presenting and public speaking… I hope that there are people that will enjoy the information

  • Joseph Mullin

    I find networking helps me. Talking with 2-5 people at the same time is easier than talking to 100. It helps you overcome the fear of talking to strangers so that when you do have to talk to many people your fear is not as great. Also find ways to present to others. Professional organizations civic groups etc.
    Through my volunteer work I had to perform Public Relations in front of a number of people presenting my team. I also had to hold press conferences for the team during operations.
    So practice with networking groups and then move up to larger groups.
    Toastmasters is an excellent organization that help people become professional speakers.

  • David P Vernon

    Few people have natural gifts as public speakers, and most formal education does not really teach one to develop one’s style and overcome one’s fears. In order to become good at public speaking, one must become comfortable in the role, and to become comfortable in the role requires practice.

    Weekly Toastmasters meetings will fill this need – you will get LOTS of practice, at speaking ad hoc, at speaking impromptu, and at speaking from prepared notes and slides. You will see others do the same, share critiques, and almost certainly lose your natural fears of audiences and of flopping in front of witnesses.

    If you can’t find a local Toastmasters chapter, then other venues might do, like Terry at the JayCees, but with groups other than Toastmasters, one must volunteer to speak and has the option of hiding in audiences instead. Toastmasters does not allow hiding – everyone speaks!

    Public speaking is like riding a bicycle – practice makes better!

  • Budhaditya Sengupta

    We all know what we have to speak but we can’t. We fear what others will think or make fun or not confident enough. For public speaking, two most vital things r required, Confidence and one should know what he/ she is speaking about (product knowledge).
    Understanding the audience will be there if speaker knows what he is speaking about and then he can connect with the listeners. Practice is MUST for any training or public speaking.

  • Eugenia Sochorovska

    Keep smiling and memorize 1-2 first sentences. Smiling helps you to relax and good start gives you a certain level of confidence. Focus on your audience rather than on yourself. And don’t memorize every sentence, just keep in mind the main points you want to share. That’s what works well for me.

  • Keep your gestures simple, but use your hand and head gestures for emphasis and to create interest. Look around at your audience, and establish eye contact (at least for American audiences). Find a “focal point” if you have trouble with looking at your audience. Remember to smile and thank people for the opportunity to speak. Have good posture that displays your assurance. Looking confident, but approachable, is half the battle to getting attention.

  • Ahmad Fuad

    To be confident in speaking in front of public, one should know that no one from audience is super human. If you can speak to a person privately, you can speak in publich meeting as well…
    You are doing nothing different from your routine. You are talking to your own creature.
    You started speaking to strangers when you landed on the earth and this is the oldest art, we learnt and we are excellent on this.

  • Chris Paulsen

    Someone once told me to never pass up an opportunity to speak in front of a group of people. That was great advice because you probably have more opportunity to practice than you realize.

    Practicing and being prepared are a couple keys to public speaking and helped me go from being terrible to getting positive feedback on my public speaking skills.

    Toastmasters is a great option as Tom noted. Dale Carnegie is another excellent opportunity to improve in your speaking skills and confidence. Dale Carnegie would tell you to:

    -choose a topic for which you are an expert (a project you are working on, your favorite hobby, a life experience, etc.)
    -don’t memorize your speech
    -talk about your experiences & tell a story (this helps you connect)

  • Practice and Preparation. I also was videotaped giving a 3-minute presentation on a “surprise” topic (i.e. no time to prepare). Watching that videotape a few times (which in itself takes an act of bravery!) helped me analyze and hone my style. Since then, trying to make note of what made me like another speaker’s presentation has also helped.

    My background in retail sales didn’t hurt either – it forces one to speak to the public. Getting over this fear by putting yourself in an non-threatening situation (volunteer to run the table at your town’s voting center or at a race, for instance) can certainly help.

  • Pam Rose

    Practice…practice relaxing…practice…practice having fun. This is key for those who are new to public speaking. Being comfortable with your subject matter and presentation order is critical. I generally teach people to know their outline but not to memorize a speech verbatim. Unless their memory is exceptional people tend to panic if they realize they forget something. Once that happens they usually lose their place for going forward.

    I also teach that you should always start with creating a rapport. I happen to hate speaking at podiums and like to move around the stage or the entire room (when accessible). I sometimes start out with “I have a really high energy level and will be moving around the room during my presentation. There are a few reasons for that: 1) I really enjoy interacting with my audience, 2) If your heads are moving with me I know I haven’t put you to sleep, and 3) If you don’t like what I say – well, it’s tougher to hit a moving target.”

    The venue, the size of the group and subject matter will also change on presentation format and preparation. Training classes or product sessions should be interactive throughout. Bring prizes or candy and let them know that audience participation will be rewarded. Then immediately ask a question and the first person with a right answer wins a prize.

  • Retta Locke

    The best way to found out more about Toastmasters is to locate a club near where you work or live. Found out when they meet and if they allow visitors. Most clubs welcome customer. They are very willing to answer you questions about Toastmasters. This is how I found out about Toastmaster. This is a good way to found out if Toastmasters is a good fit for you.

  • John Hall

    I think it helps to both love and really undersand the topic you are going to talk about. For example, if you asked me with 5 minutes warning to talk about fishing or photography I think I would be fine, but if you asked me to talk about the migration patterns of the local butterflies I would struggle

  • Daniel Sloan

    Don’t just join TOASTMASTERS, take every speaking opportunity at your Club, no matter how small.
    For technique: Watch and critique speakers at your Club and other Clubs. Critically observe every speaker you see (on TV, at a play, at your PTA meeting). Practice by video or audio taping yourself and analyzing the tape. Listen to yourself leaving voice mail messages. Find a speaker you like to hear and try to match the points you like about their delivery such as cadence, tone, word choice, sentence length, digressions, use of quiet time, use of humor, techniques to draw you into the story. Find great speeches archived (in audio or video with audio) on the Internet and analyze them. Listen to your national or foreign-speaker’s radio services (e.g., For English, National Public Radio or the BBC, for Japanese, the NHK) and analyze the delivery and the differences between a scripted story and ad-lib. Join a theatre group and perform in a play.
    For content: Study .. Know your material.

  • Catherine Roy

    I literally fainted in front of classrooms as a student in high school & college. Now I truly enjoy giving presentations & public speaking. My tips:
    1. Know your subject better than anyone in the audience – this gives you visible & invisible confidence.
    2. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
    3. Start with small, friendly groups & work your way up to larger & sometimes contentious audiences.
    4. Use visual aids (Powerpoint, flipcharts) so you don’t have to memorize everything – show the headlines but fill in the details as you speak.
    5. Don’t be anchored to your keyboard – get a remote control so you can “work the room” or stage as you speak & still advance the slides.
    6. Point with your hand, not a laser pointer – the laser will show everyone if your hand is shaking, & they’re annoyingly overused.
    7. Empty your pockets, lose the jangling jewelry, & get rid of the clicking pen.
    8. Have a glass or bottle of water with you – taking a sip is an excuse to pause & collect your thoughts if necessary. And it’ll wash down that lump in your throat.

    I agree, Toastmasters International is fun & a super way to quickly make huge improvements in your speaking skills. You might also try video-recording yourself to see yourself as others do, so you identify what you need to improve.

    Yes, you CAN enjoy public speaking! And when you enjoy it, others will enjoy listening to you.

  • I suggest taking a THEATER CLASS and learning how to act; improvisational theater would be especially effective because it teaches you how to relax & enjoy yourself as well as think fast on your feet. By stepping outside yourself and assuming the expected role in a presentation or speech – it’s no longer YOU that’s exposed, it’s an alter-ego you can wear like a costume. The best rehearsed presentation can still go south or you could be in front of a restless or hostile audience. Improvisation skills allow you to assume the proper role for the audience and respond to changes in the “script” and other unexpected circumstances. Improv also teaches you COURAGE, which is not the absence of fear, simply the ability to act (or speak or SING) anyway.

    And yes, by all means remember to BREATHE!

  • George J. Fruehan

    George J. Fruehan, MBA •
    The basics for me are to be well prepared and to PRACTICE, and PRACTICE aloud. PRACTICE before a group of friends is even better, especially if they can be candid with you.

    For me, it was starting with in-house presentations, then giving luncheon and dinner presentations, and then finally teaching for the CPA Society and for UC Berkeley Extension. I think the progression and repetition gave me experience and confidence.

    The first few presentations were difficult, but it became fun after a while. Along the way I benefited from in-house coaches and from reading articles. But I think doing is the best teacher.

    If you want a real scare, watch a video of one of your presentations. Then watch it again and again — until you can relax and then finally learn from it.

  • Azhar

    Great post Asma!

    When I was in high school, I had a fear of speaking in public, but I used to perform any how. Now it became little easier for me, but I face mind blocking while performing

    Mind blocking is quite common with even good public speakers

  • Hey George,

    I agree with you
    PRACTICE makes a man perfect

  • The Key success of a good public speaker for a conference, a training or a meeting is certainly the practice. Repeating your speech again and again while you are driving or by yourself is essential. You’ll gain confidence without a doubt.