find you way to overcome your fear
This is the first of five thoughts dealing with professional presentations and public speaking. An Australian survey found that 70% of executives believe that good presentation skills are critical to professional advancement. Despite the widely acknowledged importance of presentation skills, this slightly arrogant but award-winning speaker finds that most executives present badly.
One of the main reasons executives present badly is due to their lack of practice. Public speaking is a skill, and as such, it improves with practice and constructive criticism.
For many, the main reason for lack of practice is – fear.
Australian research suggests that some 75% of executives are afraid of public speaking, and it is hard to practice, and even harder to do well, that which you are afraid of.
So how can fear be diminished?
Some would say, and I am amongst them, that we should listen to Sammy Davis Junior who once said that he has still felt fear before going on stage, even after doing it for more than 50 years.
Others would suggest, and I am not among them, that we should simply push through our fear. While some determination is essential I believer it is also useful to take steps to reduce fear so that you can focus on what you have to say.
I have a number of tips for reducing (although, alas, not eliminating) fear. These include:
- Make your speech as simple as possible
- Limit points to 3 or 4
- Practice your speech or presentation before delivery
- Resist the temptation to learn your speech word for word
- Try to tell a series of stories to make it engaging and easy for you to remember
- Keep your speech short – or at least no longer than it needs to be
- Arrive early and talk to members of your audience before speaking
- When you walk up to the podium, stop, look at the audience, and take a deep breath
- Do not start with a joke – unless you are very good at telling jokes
- Speak slowly and deliberately, looking audience members in the eye
These tips are not a cure for nerves, but they can help. Email me for more.
In 2018, find a way to overcome your fear
Every year – put the facts ahead of intuition and guesswork.
Sources of core statistics – Corporate Communication Experts, The Career Café, Forbes, Making Business Matter and Alvernia University
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