We all have to make presentations these days. Presentations, when we have to speak in Public. Undoubtedly, it is difficult and often avoided slyly. There could be various reasons, but the foremost among them is ‘Stage Fright’. Primarily stage fright occurs because of inadequate preparation and/or because of faulty preparation.
Today, I will give you 3 important tips which will help you to prepare a good presentation.
Be clear about Objective:
The first tip is that you must be clear about your objective. Why you have been asked to speak on the subject and why you have accepted the invitation? Both must be understood and realized. The best thing is to write it down. What is the expectation of your audience is something of cardinal importance. So, contemplate on it and note down the main points. It may require you to define the group, the profile, age group, gender mix, no of people, likes and dislikes or whatever other information you can gather.
Content is the King:
The next and critical step is the content. Even when you know the subject very well, you have to modify it every time you speak regarding the same subject. Redesign it, keeping in view your new audience and their objectives. Content is the king. It you don’t have anything significant to say, anything which will improve then knowledge or something they can use in their daily life; then keep your mouth shut. In short, there must be good amount of takeaway from your speech for your audience.
The third but most important part of your speech is your ability to express yourself effectively. Never think of impressing anyone. But you just have to express yourself. You should be able to communicate exactly what you have in mind. You are already clear about your objective and the objective of your audience. You have already gather information which will interest them. You already know what you are going to give them as takeaways. But if you lose out in holding their attention, if your audience is not hooked by you on the subject, all knowledge might get wasted.
So, the third and the vital tip is master your verbal skills.
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For a Long time Public Speaking has posed a great problem to most of human beings. Traditionally, public speaking was known as the leader addressing a crowd from the stage. It is not so today. Verbal communications have become extremely important. So even if you are speaking one on one, same articulation and clarity in voice is required as if you are talking to a group. PPT presentations have become very important in day to day functioning of the office. We will therefore deal with the six most critical aspects of Public Speaking, which are:
- Stage Fright:
Stage Fright is the fear of speaking to someone or to a group of people. When you are addressing a group of people the intensity of stage fright may be more. However if an executive is speaking just to one person – his Big Boss, he/she may experience the same fear as if they are speaking to a crowd. The strength of the fear may very from person to person and situation to situation.
You must thoroughly prepare to meet the requirement of any speaking assignment. And how do you do that? First of all, you must know your subject well. Content is the king. You should never pretend and display your ignorance of the subject to a group or even to an individual. If you don’t know, your best option is to say ‘I don’t know about it as of now’. Nobody can be expected to know everything under the Sun. Further, you should know your audience very well and you should speak in their own language.
- Body Language:
This is also very important to convey your massage. If your body language does not contribute to the efficacy of your speech, the audience will not appreciate your message. They will feel that you’re not speaking from your heart. This will go against the basic can tenets of public speaking- Ethos, Pathos and Logos. So far as body language is concerned, everything counts. The way you stand or sit, your facial expressions, the movement of your hands and legs if you’re standing. All are important.
Practice is critical for making a presentation. You must practice by reading your speech many times. You should also practice the way you’re going to deliver your speech. In delivery, it’s important to maintain an eye contact with the audience. And enthusiasm should be maintained throughout the speech. It is possible only if you breathe properly. Deep breathing is recommended. In fact yoga and various yogic practices help you to develop a habit of deep breathing. The importance of practice in public speaking can never be exaggerated.
- Audience connect:
You should connect with the audience. It should appear that you are speaking to them individually. You may roll your eyes in the entire hall. Verisimilitude will take place. The speaker should never look toward the ceiling or any corner or only in one direction. This will disconnect the rest of the people. In turn, they will become disinterested.
- Inject humor:
Any speech devoid of humor becomes very dry and uninteresting. Humor can be created in many ways. Experienced speakers ask the audience simple questions a in such a way that they burst into laughter. A new speaker has to be more careful. He should practice interesting anecdotes, or humorous stories. We must remember that the relevance of the story with the subject or the situation we face should be unquestionable. Story telling is also an art which must be practiced extensively.
Public speaking is no doubt difficult. But its advantages are immense. Today, when lots of presentations have to be made by executives, any kind of stage fright or hesitation is a serious handicap. Likewise, clarity in speech in order to articulate your ideas is important to make an impact. Practicing by finding opportunities to speak in public will go a long way to making you good public speaker.
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Speech was never as important as it is now. Today, it’s necessary that business leaders must be able to speak clearly and effectively. There are a number of speech blemishes which cause embarrassment while making presentations. Sometimes an executive in an important conversation finds himself/herself less than ‘up to the mark’. This is best avoided. I list below 7 of the blemishes which need to be addressed.
- Lack of clarity in speech: Often times we find that the speech of a person is not as articulate as it should be. Sometime they speak too fast; sometimes they mumble some words in a sentence. Though overall message is communicated but listener finds it’s difficult to assimilate. Each and every word, therefore, should be spoken clearly. The problem arises due to improper/inadequate use of speech organs. While the sound is produced by the vocal cord, the words are created by the speech organs.
- Inability to hold the attention of the listener: If the speaker does not modulate the voice, it is difficult to hold the attention of the listener. Modulation is the speaker’s ability to bring in variance in pace, pause, pitch, emphasis on the keyword and the tone. This can be corrected with the help of appropriate speech exercises.
- Use of filler words: At times, one finds that the speaker repetitively uses filler words which are: ‘like’, ‘you know’, ‘actually’, ‘basically’ etc. The filler words could also be just sounds uh…uh……and uh…. plus other such fillers. Since they are used as a matter of habit, so it requires focused attention to bring in change of such habit.
- Improper breathing: It is breath which creates the sound. We have to have sufficient amount of breath in our lungs. This requires practice of deep breathing. The best practice is to take breath at the time when you pause, and consciously, until it is a part of your speech habit.
- Improper pause: Pause if not taken at a right spot mitigates the efficacy of the speech. Pause must be taken at the end of a clause or at the end of the sentence. It should not happen that we have to take a pause because of the lack of breath.
- Body language: The speaker must be aware and maintain proper body language. Business etiquettes demand that he/she must maintain just right kind of eye contact- neither more nor less. It helps in bringing about a rapport between the speaker and the listener.
- Last but not the least; I must talk about the stage fright. Even experienced speakers suffer from stage fright, primarily due to the speech blemishes detailed above. Further, stage fright also inflicts the speaker due to lack of preparation and not understanding the needs and the profile of the audience.
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Stage Fright is a much used term these days. In fact, almost every professional is required to design and deliver powerful presentations while confidently facing the audience. The basic question remains – What is Stage Fright? And how does one overcome it?
Stage Fright begins with certain overt and physical symptoms. These include trembling of the hands, quavering of the legs, dryness of the throat, or just a feeling of the mind going completely blank. One needs to understand that these are only early signs of stage fright. If stage fright is controlled in its early stage it can be prevented from transforming itself into a strong and very real fear of the audience. In fact the speaker must take positive steps to overcome this situation. Here is what can be done:
- Prepare: This is the first and most important way to overcome stage fright. Inadequate preparation is in fact an invitation to stage fright. Never make a presentation without full preparation.
- Practice: It is said practice makes perfect. Practice is that part of preparation, where the presenter not only creates a beautiful PowerPoint – but he also well rehearses it before an imaginary audience. In fact, good presenters anticipate and answer all sorts of questions to fully prepare themselves.
- Focus on the opening: Well begun is half done. Since stage fright is generally at its maximum in the beginning, a good opening will ensure that you catch the audience interest and attention. That will do work wonders with your confidence.
- Interest in the subject matter: A speaker must have strong interest in his subject. Any speaker who is disinterested or half-hearted, can hardly expect his audience to listen to him intently.
- Shift focus of attention: Some presenters are always worried about doing a good job at the presentation. Rather the speaker should focus on the audience’s requirements. What do they need? Why have they gathered to hear him speak? How are they responding to his communication? A positive focus on these questions will enable him to gain greater confidence as the presentation rolls along.
Someone has said that stage fright and confidence are two sides of the same coin. You turn one and the other appears. So the next time you are feeling a little nervous, tell yourself your feeling confident, and believe me you may quite be able to work things out. Remember, it only takes one really good presentation to take your communication skills to the level of a public speaker.
Great leaders are great speakers. Public Speaking is an Art as well as a Science. One needs to understand what goes into making of a great public speaker. Today, I will talk to you about the seven secrets of Public Speaking.
Secret No. 1: Confidence
You must have confidence in yourself. You must respect yourself and value your opinions. You can only achieve this if you are not judgmental. It can be achieved if you have an open mind. Once you realise that like any other human being you can also make mistakes, you become confident. Again you become confident because you have nothing to hide and nothing to fear!
Secret No. 2: Overcoming Stage Fright.
Public Speaking dates back to the origin of history. Likewise stage fright has been felt by the Public Speakers from the time immemorial. There is no short cut for overcoming stage fright. We must realise that when we speak to audience it is not stage fright but it is heightened feeling. This is also a feeling we get whenever we are about to do something important. The more we find opportunities to address the audience, the faster we will overcome stage fright.
Secret No. 3: Body Language
This refers to the way you stand; the way you walk – it refers to your posture while speaking and your dress must also be cool!
Secret No. 4: Eye Contact
While speaking it is necessary that you make eye contact with you audience. It should appear that you are talking to the people. Each person of the audience should feel that you are talking to him or her. This can be achieved by practice along.
Secret No. 5: Articulation
Articulation for a Public Speaking refers to the clarity in his ideas, and the clarity of each and every word that he/she speaks. This is more of a Science. It can be achieved by understanding the principles and with lots of practice.
Secret No. 6: Ability to hold the attention of the audience
You have to develop modulation in your speech. This can be practiced by memorising and repeating dramatic monologues of Shakespeare and others. A lot of hard work has to get into building talent to modulate.
Secret No. 7: The Structure of the Speech
Every Speech must have a clear cut beginning. The various points that you want to communicate to the audience form the body. You need to be clear about these points which should not be more than three or four. In conclusion you must summarize what you have talked about and your speech on a happy note.