Public Speaking 101: Speaking Secrets of the Superstars

May 17 21:26 2007 Colleen Kettenhofen Print This Article

In this new public speaking article, discover behind-the-scenes secrets great public speakers practice that you can incorporate today! 13 proven tips on public speaking skills, conquering fear of public speaking, and getting results. Whether you're speaking in a small meeting or before a group of 400. Especially beneficial for executives, salespeople, business owners, managers, technical people, nonprofits directors and government officials.

"With public speaking,Guest Posting your audience will know if you didn't rehearse." Colleen Kettenhofen

All of us recognize that public speaking ranks among one of the greatest fears for most people. Whether speaking at a meeting or before a group of 400, many people get nervous just anticipating giving a presentation. A comment I frequently hear in my public speaking seminars is, "What's the best way to overcome nervousness and gain confidence with public speaking?" Here are some proven secrets many great public speakers practice:

1. Your audience will know if you're not prepared. They'll pick up on subtle clues in your body language. 95% of your success is determined before the presentation. Rehearsing minimizes 75% of your nervousness. No one likes to rehearse. Instead, see if you can have a friend or colleague videotape you. Yes, I realize no one likes seeing themselves on video either! Still, the camera will be your most objective ally.

2. Once you've fine-tuned your presentation, rehearse and practice in front of family members, colleagues, friends, or a public speaking coach. Ask for honest feedback. What did they like most? What did they think of your energy level, passion and commitment to what you're saying? What do they think could be improved? Also practice in front of a mirror. This will help you rehearse standing up and let you see what needs to be improved. The more you rehearse standing up, and the more familiar you become with your material, the more comfortable you will be with your public speaking. This one tip alone can dramatically improve public speaking skills.

3. Put your presentation as a "rough draft" on a micro cassette recorder. Listen to it while you're driving to and from work, picking up the kids, or driving to the supermarket. I know what you're thinking. "I don't like how I sound on audio tape!" I realize that. But this is a convenient way to learn material quickly. Again, where do you sound convincing, passionate and interesting? What parts of your presentation do you think need work? The audio cassette recorder is another objective ally.

4. Visualize yourself giving a successful presentation. Better yet, if you know the exact room you'll be speaking in visualize that, too. Olympic athletes practice visualization. It works for public speaking as well.

5. To improve public speaking skills, do a dress rehearsal. Before I conduct a keynote speech or breakout session at a conference, I take a peek inside the ballroom. If the room's empty, I'll go in and practice a "dry run." This is something I try to do in full dress rehearsal mode. If the ballroom is being used until morning, I go in that morning.

Rehearsing in the exact room will give you an edge in feeling more comfortable and conquering fear of public speaking. This is one of the biggest public speaking secrets of many great public speakers. Guaranteed! If you're usually presenting in small meetings or groups these same techniques work.

6. Are your notes and visual aids large enough print that you can see them standing up? Your notes should be "fast food for the eyes." Never read your presentation. You're the presenter. Your audience expects you to be the expert. You want that connection with them. A secret to effective public speaking is bonding with your audience through stories, activities, appropriate humor and understanding their needs ahead of time.

7. Stand up when speaking in public. Even if only three people attend, it sends a signal that says, "You're so important that I'm going to stand even for the three of you." According to a University of Minnesota study, when you stand in presenting your ideas, you are more believable, credible and persuasive.

8. Stand "center stage" when presenting your most important point. It grabs the audience's attention. The rest of the time you can move around as long as you aren't nervously pacing like a lion. Again, that's where the videotaping helps!

Visual Aids and Public Speaking: Less is More

9. With public speaking and visual aids, less is more. Don't use more than three or four colors per slide. Otherwise, people start focusing more on color and less on content. Use graphs for sales figures or sets of numbers showing a trend over a period of time. Graphs are pictures that increase retention and comprehension. No more than two or three lines on a graph. Use pie charts for market share, budgets, expenses analysis, income sources and the like.

10. Avoid slides with yellow, pink or orange print. They don't show up well. Dark blue, black or any other dark color is better. White is okay with a darker background. Red stands for negatives like "danger," or "warning." Only use red to indicate problems, your competition, stopping or something similar.

11. Public speaking and eye contact: Approximately three to five seconds of eye contact per person with a small or medium sized group. Many public speakers make the mistake of using their visual aids AS their presentation. A key point in persuading your audience is establishing connection and credibility.

12. What if someone in your audience doesn't like what you have to say because they don't like the product or service you're selling? Or what if you fear public speaking because you often have to deliver bad news? Know and research your audience ahead of time. What will be their biggest objections? THINK AHEAD when planning your presentation how you're going to handle those issues.

13. Never lose emotional control. Often, these difficult people are trying to rattle your cage. They want control. And they want it in front of others. What if they continuously discount what you're saying? Tactfully respond to them at first. After a while, say something like, "You bring up a good point, and yet, due to time constraints see me at the break and we'll discuss that privately." Your audience will be looking to see how you handle the situation.

"When speaking in public, you are your own best visual aid." Colleen Kettenhofen

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About Article Author

Colleen Kettenhofen
Colleen Kettenhofen

Colleen Kettenhofen is a speaker, workplace expert, & co-author of "The Masters of Success," as featured on the Today Show, along with Ken Blanchard and Jack Canfield. For free articles, e-newsletter, or to order the book visit Topics: leadership, managing people, difficult people, public speaking. Colleen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions and seminars. 1(800)323-0683

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