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Of Public Speaking
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Dear Goddess Of Public Speaking...
" Even though I probably do too much preparation for a speech, my results are under-whelming. How can I prepare well and get better results? " R.L., HOMEOPATH, N.Z.
" Get Ready To Give A Speech "
My first thought - the word "preparation" sounds long, formal and boring to me. Like the word "organisation." Maybe it's the "tion" words. They sound so, inactive. I know I switch off when I hear them. Definitely time for a cup of tea and a shortbread. Perhaps a new word to replace "preparation" may liven things up - what about "Get ready", "I'm in the mood for fabulous", or "Creating the WOW factor"??? It's remarkable what a change of language and mindset can do. Compare it to: "Building a speech foundation." That does sound really boring; note the "tion" word again. I too am guilty of using such language. I battle with words that sound active, fun and unique, versus practical, "here's how to do the really obvious" kind of language.
And just to keep the pressure up, I will add that speech preparation or whatever you want to call it, is vital. Vital! Even impromtu speaking increases it's fabulous factor with some forward preparation.
So yes, my commiserations R.L., when we put in the effort, we do expect a good return on our investment. I don't know your success yardstick, so I can't tell if your expectations are realistic for you. For that matter, what is regarded as over preparation to one person is under preparation to another, so I will confine my answer to 4 practical speech preparation tips that everyone can use.
If you want to make a difference every time you talk to a small group, speak at a meeting or present at a conference, factor in extra time to prepare physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Here's how:
Any physical or sound expression will move pent up or stagnant energy, frustration or fear. Release it through walking, humming or practising the 6 minute Inner Calm exercise to connect with your Inner Speaker. Try rolling your shoulders back & feel your chest expand. Feel your feet on the floor. Put your hand on your belly & take in a deep breath. Hold. Release.
Connect emotionally by taking a slow, full breath before you speak. Give people time to tune into you while you tune into them. Then make soft eye contact with one person. Don’t rush. Take a breath with them. Establish a real connection, one person at a time.
Be mentally and verbally clear by repeating the “one thing” you want listeners to take away and act on. This is something you must think through in advance. There is so much you can say, but your audience can only retain so much. Make it easy for your listeners and spell out that one thing clearly and provide a practical example or steps they can follow.
Don't worry if this sounds airy-fairy. I'm referring to "presence" here (remember, you read all about it in the previous March issue.) Spiritually flow with the moment, connect with your purpose and share it meaningfully with others. Listeners are more likely to remember your message if you embed it with something meaningful and heartfelt. Keeping your spirit and message aligned keeps you in integrity, which keeps you compelling and authentic.
Red Riding Hood Again
I find recognising the importance of the speech to you and others, provides the motivation and clarity for making time for preparation. When you don't like public speaking, there is a tendency to over prepare (obsess) or under prepare (avoid). Like Little Red Riding Hood, talk preparation needs to be "just right" for you. By designing your own preparation habit or ritual, you send yourself the message, "This speech is important, worth my time and I am going to be prepared and present."
What is your usual pattern of behaviour before a speech? Does it serve you or dishonour you?
Finally R.L., identify the results you are expecting. Are the speeches you give likely to deliver the results you long for? Are you clearly telling your listeners what you want from them? And have you asked for feedback and learnt from it? Designing a juicy invitation for your listeners will motivate a result. And this is something you need to think through and prepare in advance of speaking.
The time spent in getting ready to give a speech, is like time spent in planning; a a good framework and structure enhances your content and ultimately gives a greater return on investment. When it comes down to it, make sure you enjoy getting ready to give a speech, otherwise your stress and tiredness will overwhelm your message. Not attractive. What gives you energy and clarity? Do some more of that. Your listeners will thank you.
Rate between 1 and 10 how cool, calm and connected you feel:
When you speak and lead with natural ease and authenticity, you will be closer to 10. When you feel scattered, distracted or unconfident, you will be closer to 1.
What To Do: If you are above a 7 today, notice what's working well and keep doing it. Accept that daily variations in confidence and clarity are normal and natural.
If you are below a 7 today, practise the 6 minute Inner Calm exercise.