Whenever the topic of public speaking comes up in conversation, I’m often treated to at least one story about the fear of public speaking and asked about what I think is the best cure for this fear. I explain that I’ve seen numerous “systems” ranging from e-books to hypnotic audio programs to DVDs, all of which promise to help you overcome your fear of public speaking. I’m then asked which one I recommend and I reply “none.” There is only one way to overcome your fear of public speaking and there are no books, DVDs, CDs or other electronic resources that will help alleviate that fear.
When we need to give a speech, we put so much time and effort into preparing for our preparation that the last thing we want is to put the audience to sleep with a boring talk. Boring talks are can be caused by both the content of the speech or the speaker’s presentation style — and often, both are to blame. So we’ll cover some easy ways to perk up your audience and make your speech more interesting.
1: Be excited about your speech.
PowerPoint and other presentation programs are excellent tools that can really enhance a presentation. As the old saying goes, a picture truly does paint a thousand words, and sometimes more. Pictures, graphs and other visuals can quickly communicate details that would be cumbersome to describe. Not to mention, it provides numerous opportunities to insert some humor and other attention getting devices into your presentation.
With all that being said, there are some mistakes that you should try to avoid when creating an overhead presentation. These mistakes are common and even experienced speakers run into them.
Mistake 1: Reading from your slides:
Public speaking can be challenging enough without a disability so speaking when you’re disabled presents its own set of unique challenges. The good news is that there are many people who have been able to transcend their disabilities and become successful speakers. Now different types of disabilities require different techniques, but whether you have problems with your speech or are confined to a wheelchair, you can still be an effective speaker. Don’t tell yourself (or let others tell you) that your disability means public speaking isn’t an option for you. If you have the ability to communicate with others, then you have the ability to be an effective presenter.
Vocal variety (or vocal variation) is an absolute necessity to avoid the boring talk. If you’ve ever sat through a talk where the speaker spoke in a monotonous voice, then you know exactly what I’m talking about — it’s an easy way to make a two minute speech last an eternity. The good news is that with a little practice, you can easily use your voice to convey emotions such as excitement, passion and enthusiasm.
All too often, we have people in our audience that love to ask questions. Sometimes, their intentions are genuine as they either didn’t understand a point you made or have a real interest in learning more about something you had said. Other times, their intentions are less than genuine as they want to show off their knowledge, appeal to their own ego or make you look bad. And of course, there’s the clueless questioner who doesn’t get the material and doesn’t mind holding up everyone else.
Whenever I have casual conversations about public speaking, I’m often asked about the benefits. Why would anyone want to speak in front a big group? What if you mess up? Why bother putting yourself in such a scary situation to begin with? These are just a handful of the questions I’m asked by people looking at me as if I have two heads.