Every one of us is likely, at some stage of our lives, to be asked to give a speech.  It could happen at work with a presentation to co-workers, or just in a family situation, say at a wedding.  Yes… I know.  The very thought of standing up in front of an audience sends most people cold. 

So… before it happens to you, here's ten points that could help you be an effective communicator.  They involve getting to know yourself.
 
1. What you know.
It's all about education, but to be an effective speaker you need to know your subject and practice what you've learned.  My stint as a speaker at Toastmasters' meetings, taught me that we all have our limitations, but that doesn't mean we can't learn to share what we know.  And Toastmasters can be a great experience for anyone.  You're never judged… just helped.  Why not think about trying this, before you're put in the hot seat.  They're a worldwide organization and an online search should find your nearest one.
 
2. Listening.
Listening is just as important as asking questions. Sometimes listening to the sound of our own voice can teach us to be a little confident and to say the things we believe in, with conviction.  When you've put your speech together, deliver it out loud in privacy.  You'll soon hear what parts sound a little stilted, or need more work to explain the point you're making.  If it's an important speech, have a really good friend or family member hear it too.  Make it someone you know will be honest with you.
 
3. Humility
We all make mistakes, and sometimes we slur our words, stutter, and probably mispronounce certain words even though we know 
what they mean. So in a group like Toastmasters, don't be afraid to ask if you're saying the right word properly and if they're unsure about it then make a joke out of it. I promise you it'll make everyone laugh and you can get away with it as well.
 
4. Eye Contact
There's a lot to say when it comes to directing your attention to your audience with an eye-catching gaze. It's important that you keep your focus when talking to a large group in a meeting or a gathering.  And that focus should be on your audience… not your written speech.  A two second pause while you eye-contact-connect with a member of your audience will have you appearing relaxed and professional.
 
5. Kidding around
A little bit of humor can do wonders to lift the tension, or worse,  boredom when making your speech.  That way, you'll get the attention of the majority of the crowd and they'll feel that you're approachable and human.  Do a search online for jokes after adding your speech's main keyword.  So, if it's a group of doctors you're presenting to, do a search for "medicaljokes" including the inverted commas.
 
6. Be close to your audience
Interaction is all about mingling with other people.  So, if it's at all possible, before your speech, do what you can to make a circuit of the room, talking briefly to as many people as possible.  You'll get ideas, as well as knowing a lot more about your audience.
 
7. Me, Myself, and I
Admit it, there are times you sing to yourself in the shower.  I know I do!  Listening to the sound of your own voice while you practice your speech in front of a mirror can help correct the stress areas of your pitch.  
 
8. With a smile
A smile says it all… much like eye contact. There's no point on grimacing or frowning in a meeting or a gathering, unless it's a wake.  You can better express what you're saying when you smile.  It's somewhat like making an important phone call… your smile really does travel the phone line to the person you're talking to.
 
9. A Role Model
Are there at least one or two people in your life you have listened to when they're at a public gathering or maybe at church?  Sure, they read their lines, but taking a mental note of how they emphasize what they say can help you once you take center stage.  Or head to YouTube and find some videos from Tony Robbins.  That guy really knows how to put a presentation together.  You'll learn heaps just from watching him.
 
10. Preparation
Make the best out of preparation rather than just scribbling notes, often in a hurried panic.  Some people like to write things down on index cards, while other resort to notes written on the palm of their hand (doesn't work with clammy hands).  Being totally prepared will also do heaps to relieve the panic factor.  I cut a standard index card in half so it just about fits in the palm of my hand.  And always number your cards top right hand.  I learned this the hard way when I dropped the whole presentation just as I started, and with them all out of order, had to give up on the cards and "wing it".  I got through it, but it wasn't my best effort!
 
And that about wraps it up.  Empower yourself when it comes to public or private speaking.  Know your subject.  Do the preparation so you're going to feel relaxed.  Connect with your audience with humor and with repeated eye contact around the room.  Believe it or not, this simple formula will also do wonders for your self esteem.  You'll feel really good about yourself.
 
Would you like to keep a copy of this, for future use?  Click here to direct download a pdf file.  And if you think it may help someone else that you have in mind, please pass it on.
 
And you know… if there's any subject you'd like to see covered here, simply log in, post a request and I'll do my very best.  
 
Christine R.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.   ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

 

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