Introduction to Public Speaking MasterclassTuesday, 31st July 2018
Public speaking is consistently rated as our worst fear – ahead of everything that can actually kill you! It is further estimated that 75% suffer from a degree of anxiety related to public speaking. The good news is… this can all change!
As part of the future pro-manchester Masterclass series, I teamed up with Kate Cocker, the Presenter Coach, to offer some advice and exercises to help our delegates become more confident public speakers. Covering everything from speech models to musical statues, we were so impressed by the delegates willingness to get involved and have a go.
If you couldn’t make it on the day, here are our five key tips…
Accept that fear is a physical response
When you start to get nervous your body does two things: it produces cortisol (a stress hormone) and it tenses. Which means your heart starts to race, you find it difficult to breathe, and all you want to do is run away. This is normal! In fact, it’s what has kept us alive. Those strange people who love standing on their own are the ones who got picked off by predators or rival tribes.
You can’t rationalise your way out if this, so instead you need to trick your body. Adopt a confident stance (think, Wonderwoman): head up, holders back, and smile! Take a few deep breaths and soon you’ll start to feel calmer.
It’s not (all) about you
Start any planning and preparation by thinking about your audience. What do they want to hear? What knowledge have they got? What language do they speak? The worst presentations we sit through are the ones that haven’t pitched it right, and we either felt patronised or completely confused.
That being said, make sure you let your personality show. Why are you giving this talk? Why should they listen to you? What can you bring that nobody else can? Establish your authority early and deliver the talk in a style that suits you.
Establish your key message
Why are you giving this speech? To pass on information, to sell something or to persuade the audience to change their minds? You need to work out, before you start drafting your speech, what one thing you need your audience to take away with them. Everything else should reinforce or embellish this central message.
One of the best pieces of advice I received (in the days of 140 characters) was that you should be able to tweet your key message. Anything longer is unlikely to be remembered or acted upon.
We’re great at telling stories. We do it all the time without even thinking about it. In any given day you probably hear dozens of stories – and you never see people using notes to remember what to say next!
However, this natural gift for storytelling is so often overlooked when we do a “proper speech”. We start to use formal language we would never use in conversation and worry that we’ll forget the exact words we want to use.
When you start writing your speech, think about any stories you have that support your point. These could be personal stories, or stories about other people. Politicians are great at this – there’s always a specific person we can relate to who is affected by the policy change. These stories are so much more engaging and persuasive than relying solely on statistics.
Practise, practise, practise
I often compare public speaking to running. You can read every book, listen to every podcast and learn all the theory, but unless you put those trainers on and get out the house, you’ll never be a runner. The same applies here, you have to speak to improve your speaking!
We are always keen to find new speakers to share their experience and stories at pro-manchester events. Let us know if you’d be interested and we can look for panel events, seminars and keynotes to suit. And don’t worry, we’ll be around to offer additional training and support!
This article was written by Ilona Alcock, pro-manchester