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But they are also expecting something in return for time they are giving up. If you start suggesting that, in some way, this is going to be a lousy speech, they’ll believe you. And they’ll switch off. You will have lost any sympathy they had.
To get over your nerves at start, have a clear and positive opening worked out. This is one part of speech you can memorise to get you through first few moments. Just tell them who you are, what you are talking about and what they will gain from listening. Then get on with it.
7. Stand still and don’t move your hands about.
A lot of people who are inexperienced at public speaking try their utmost to stop themselves moving about. They seem to have some fear that their bodies will go out of control and they’ll do something totally ridiculous or embarrassing. So they try to keep absolutely still, often by holding onto a lectern like survivor of a shipwreck clinging to a piece of driftwood on ocean.
The best way to make contact with an audience and to keep their attention is to behave as if you are speaking to them in a normal conversation. So you move about, you use gestures, you look at them. When speakers try to stop themselves doing these things, they become unnatural, distant from audience.
So don’t get too hung up about any mannerisms you think you may have. It’s usually better to look natural than to try to deliver a talk as though from a straightjacket. Just avoid some obvious distractions, like playing with something in your hands, pushing your hands in your pockets and juggling your change( a male thing ), shifting back and forth on one leg. But, if what you are saying is interesting, people will listen.
8. Stare over heads of audience.
This is a way of pretending to establish eye contact without really doing so, because some people feel awkward about it. They don’t really want to look at audience. The idea is that, if you look out over their heads, they will think you are looking at them.
Actually, they won’t. They’ll think “ Why is this person looking over my head? “.
To my mind, key factor in gaining an audience’s attention and keeping it ( apart from fascinating content of your talk ) is eye contact. If you were talking to someone who never looked at you, what would you think?
Chances are you’d think “ This person isn’t interested in me. He’s not listening. “ Or, if person was speaking but not looking at you, you may think they were a bit shifty, perhaps dishonest. In any event, you wouldn’t find it a pleasant experience.
The same goes for speaking in public. If I am in an audience and speaker doesn’t look at me, I can’t feel that person is interested in me or whether I am listening. So I stop listening. On other hand, if speaker makes a point of keeping eye contact with me, it gives me feeling that he cares about making some connection with me and I’ll feel less inclined to switch off.
So look at them while you speak, keep your eyes moving around room so you engage everyone there. If it’s a very big audience, you can look at a section at a time but, with a small audience, you will need to look at individuals. Not for too long, but glance at everyone as you speak so no – one feels left out.
9. Imagine audience naked.
This is supposed to be another way to deal with nerves. I have actually seen it in guides to presentations.
The best answer to this is one I found in book “ Successful Presentations for Dummies “ by Malcolm Kushner: IDG Books. He says there is probably half audience who you wouldn’t mind seeing naked. The other half you certainly would never want to see naked. Either way, it’s not a calming thought.
Another ‘ tip ‘ I have come across is to pretend audience isn’t there. This probably works in a way because I can guarantee, if you pretend audience isn’t there, pretty soon it won’t be.
I mentioned eye contact above. You can’t just ignore people out there and expect your talk to have any impact. There are lots of ways to tackle nerves but they come under 3 categories:
* preparation, think through what could go wrong and prepare for it, know your subject and be clear about why you are giving talk, also keep things in perspective – what’s worst than can happen? You’re not performing brain surgery.
* relaxation or deep breathing exercises.
* positive self – talk, visualise talk going really well, tell yourself it will be a success, know that you have prepared and that you can do this and stop yourself when you start to think it will all be a disaster.
Above all, remember that everyone gets nervous when they have to speak in public. If you don’t feel nervous, you should ask someone to check your pulse. The nerves themselves are not problem. You can carry on and give a great talk even though you feel nervous at start.
10. Have a drink beforehand to calm your nerves.
No, no, no. Alcohol and nerves are a lethal combination. Have you ever sat through a Best Man’s speech at a wedding? Then you’ll know what I mean. Don’t do it.
Incidentally, if you want to have a glass of water at hand in case your mouth gets dry – use still not sparkling. Belching into a microphone is not to be recommended.
There you are – top 10 things to avoid when speaking in public. Keep away from these, follow my simple rules, and you won’t go far wrong.
Alan Matthews is a Marketing Coach, Trainer and Speaker who helps business owners to prepare and deliver a compelling marketing message. For a free report " Why Isn't This Working? How To Get People Interested In Your Business " email mailto:email@example.com email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.trainofthought.org.uk