Sooner or later you will have to make a speech, that is if you are going to move forward to achieve your career goals.
Trauma time! Research shows that fear of speaking before a group is one of the top horrors most of us can imagine.
Some managers who are confidence personified in one-on-one situations turn to quivering Jell-O when called on to speak to a group. Others, who can deliver their messages clearly and forcefully from behind a desk, mumble, ramble and otherwise fall flat on their faces when speaking before an audience.
Platform phobia will never disappear completely for most of us, but the monster can be brought under control, so that we can perform adequately as a public speaker.
It’s all right to be afraid. So long as you keep your fear under control, it will keep your battery charged and actually help you make a better speech. And that is good enough for career success most of the time, unless you want to go on the after-dinner circuit.
Career Tips: 12 Steps To Success With Your Speeches
Here 12 steps you can take to conquer fear and do a better job the next time you are called to the platform.
1. Be sure you know what is expected of you. What subject are you expected to cover? Is your assignment to entertain or to inform? How much time do you have?
2. Scope out the audience and setting. Who and how many will be there? What are their interests, at what levels? What about the physical setup of the site?
3. Prepare, prepare, prepare. If you are a neophyte speaker, put your address in writing. If you are an experienced public speaker, an outline will do. If it is truly a significant speech, put it in writing.
4. A written speech is one thing, a spoken speech is another. This means once you have it in writing, read it aloud, repeatedly, to make sure it sounds good as well as reads good.
5. Keep focused on the subject. Identify no more than three or four major points you want to make; and then take the advice of Winston Churchill, one of the great orators of all time, who said: “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit a third time – a tremendous whack.”
6. Have someone else read your speech for clarity and logic. You may be an unwitting victim of that old trap that goes like this: “I know you believe you understand what you think I said. But I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” When you say something, make sure you have said it.
7. Practice with a tape recorder until you like what you hear. If at all possible, have someone make a video tape of your delivering the speech. Review it several times to understand how others will hear your manner of speaking, and see the way you use your hands, eye contact, etc. If you can’t get a video tape made, stand before a mirror for your rehearsal. Have someone else observe your delivery.
Your posture, your tone of voice, your body gestures are as powerful a carrier of your message as your words. Avoid distractions such as jingling the change in your pocket, scratching your head or rubbing your nose.
8. Dress appropriately. Research into the location of your speech and the makeup of the audience will tell you how to dress. In other words, don’t handicap yourself by showing up in a three-piece suit for a speech at a golf outing.
9. It’s okay to speak from notes, but never read the text verbatim, unless precise wording is required as in a legal document. Use a “highlighter” to identify key ideas in the script. If you must read a portion of your message, make eye contact with members of your audience frequently.
Whatever mode you are in, vary your voice … tone, volume, tempo.
10. Illustrate your speech with visual aids (i.e., slides, flip charts, overheads) and with anecdotes, case histories. (Be sure the projection equipment is working flawlessly.)
11. Speak one-to-one to your audience, not the mass. Make eye contact with various individuals in different parts of the audience. It can help to call out names of individuals in the audience.
12. Keep your listeners in perspective. Remember, you are presumed to know more about the subject than they do. You are in command.
Following these 12 steps won’t make you an overnight rock star on the platform, but they will propel you toward achieving your career goals.
About the Author
For free advice on how to achieve your career goals click here: http://www.commonsenseatwork.com>; You’ll receive Ramon Greenwood’s free semi-monthly newsletter. You can also visit his Your Blog For Career Advice via this route. Greenwood’s common sense career advice comes from a world of experience, including serving as Senior Vice President of American Express, an entrepreneur, professional director, career coach and author.