So you’re about to take the stage to give a speech and you start feeling a little strange. Your stomach feels like it’s tied up in knots, your heart is racing and you have a warm and tightening feeling in your upper body. This is a normal feeling that even experienced speakers feel from time to time. So how do you deal with it? How about imagining your audience in their underwear?
Throughout the last six years, I’ve heard at least a dozen folks who are good speakers tell other people that they should never open their speech with “Thanks, it’s nice to be here” or some other cordial greeting. I’ve asked many of these folks why they feel so strongly about it and have yet to receive what I consider a satisfactory answer – a giveaway that I might have a myth on my hands.
Here are some of the answers I’ve received when asking why this is so bad:
- It weakens your speech.
- It bores the audience.
One of the biggest challenges that leaders within Toastmasters face is the club slump. Clubs that are thriving one year are suddenly struggling to survive the next. Corporate clubs, especially those that restrict members to company employees, are the most prone to this as factors such as layoffs, relocation and company-wide initiatives can directly affect a club. Community clubs aren’t immune to this either as key people can leave a club for reasons ranging from job changes to changes in their family situation. Regardless of whether or not your club is in a slump (it’s good to be proactive), here’s six ways to revive and re-energize your club.
When dressing for an interview, you want to put forth a professional image and show the potential employer that you’re serious about becoming a member of their team. You can’t accomplish either of these goals when dressed inappropriately. So it’s important to put some thought into what you wear when dressing for an interview.
For a typical white collar office job, you want to wear formal business attire to an interview unless the person setting up the interview tells you otherwise. In the latter case, feel free to ask for clarification if you’re told something vague like “you don’t have to wear a suit” or if they say you can dress business casual. There’s nothing wrong with you confirming that you both share the same meaning of business casual.
You’re giving your presentation but the audience just isn’t reacting. They’re distracted and not showing any emotion at all. Was it something you did? While it’s very possible that you may have put your audience to sleep, this happens only on rare occasions as most audience members are professional enough to at least pretend to be interested. If the audience is completely comatose, chances are that you’re not the reason.
You were able to present like a pro at your first job but now it’s been years since you’ve last given speech. You should be okay, right? Not necessarily. Many folks assume that since they were able to give a good presentation back in the day that they’d still be able to deliver an engaging talk today. While that might be true for some people, most notably people that presented frequently for an extended period of time, not everyone is able to pick up where they left off – especially if it took a lot of work to overcome the discomfort.
One of the things I’ve been working on is pronouncing words correctly. I recently listened to an audio program to learn Italian (I hope to visit Italy in the near future) and was reminded of some of the common mispronunciations that people make. I was surprised at the way the narrator mispronounced numbers in English. Here are some of the ways she mispronounced numbers:
- Twenty was mispronounced “Twen-y.” – Missing “T.”
- Seventy was mispronounced “Seven-dy” – “T” to “D.”
- Ninety was mispronounced “Nine-dy” – “T” to “D.”