MOST NEW WOMEN MANAGERS
PREFER HAVING A ROOT CANAL
TO PUBLIC SPEAKING
If you’re like most business women, public speaking and presenting is one of your major fears. But you’re a manager now and you are more likely to need public speaking skills – maybe not to an audience of hundreds right away, but at least to your peers or your staff.
You may never totally rid yourself of your nerves, because this type of activity is unnatural. However, your nervous energy can be used to your advantage once you learn to convert your adrenaline into the delivery of an enthusiastic, passionate, convincing and engaging presentation.
Toastmasters International, the ultimate experts on public speaking, giveS the following ten tips for success.
- Know the room. Become familiar with the place in which you will be speaking. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and test the microphone and any visual aids you will be using.
- Know your audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive because it’s a lot easier to speak to a group of friends than strangers.
- Know your material. If you’re not thoroughly familiar with your subject or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will only increase. Practice your speech and revise it as often as you can ahead of time.
- Relax. (Easier said than done!) Try doing some light exercise before your speech to help ease your tension. (Just slowly bend or stretch so you don’t work up a sweat.)
- Visualize yourself giving the speech. Close your eyes and imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and assured. Visualizing success helps you be successful.
- Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. Do it to it!
- Don’t apologize. If you mention your nervousness or apologize for any problems you think you have with your speech, you will probably call your audience’s attention to something they hadn’t even noticed.
- Concentrate on your message, not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxiety and outward toward your message and your audience. You’ll forget your nervousness.
- Turn nerves into positive energy. Harness your nervous energy and turn it into vitality and enthusiasm.
- Gain experience. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective public speaking.
Especially if you discover that public speaking will be a significant part of your new job, consider joining a local Toastmasters Club! I’ve known many business women whom they have helped tremendously. You can find a club near you by visiting their website at http://www.toastmasters.org/find
A Few More Public Speaking Tips
For Women in Management
- Remember your body language! Stand tall with your head held high and your shoulders squared (saying you are self-assured and authoritative) and walk around a bit (take up space saying you are authoritative and powerful).
- You only have a few seconds to capture your audience’s attention. Start with a bold, even controversial, statement – your headline. (Don’t start with your biography and information about your company. Until you establish yourself as knowledgable and likeable, your audience won’t care.) When you grab their attention up front, they want to hear what you are going to say next.
- Take your time! Don’t read your speech word-for-word. Be as conversational as you can, using a set of key phrases listed on cue cards. If you will need to use names of people or places that are difficult to pronounce, spell them phonetically on your cue cards.
Sidebar: I once knocked my cue cards off a podium in the middle of a speech and they flew all over the floor. That was probably my worst public speaking moment. (After that I always used a pad of 3x5 yellow Post-Its.)
- Keep it short and simple. The appropriate length depends on the situation, but be aware of your audience’s attention span.
- Mentally divide the room into thirds and select one person from each third. Make eye contact with that person directly as you speak to each third of the audience.
- Take questions and answers when you are finished. Don’t get drawn into a debate during your speech if someone disagrees with you. Let the person know you’d be happy to speak with them after your speech.
- Don’t hide behind the podium, or hold on to it. Move around. Be animated.
- Share relevant personal anecdotes and inject some humor. Be sure your humor is situational not personal.
Take Comfort Where You Can Find It!
The two most comforting things I always told myself were:
- No matter who is in the audience, I know more about my topic than they do.
- Everyone in the audience got out of bed, brushed their teeth and showered this morning the same way I did.
I actually asked for coaching before I made my first speech to a large audience. Believe it or not, the highly paid coach told me to picture an audience full of naked people. I tried it but had everything I could do not to start out laughing so I don’t recommend it - unless you’re really desperate.
If I suggested that you “Just get up there and go for it!” you’d be so out of here, so fast. I know it’s hard. But remember, every speaker had to start somewhere and nobody is immune to the first time jitters. Just follow these tips and tell yourself “I can do this!” .
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