Overcome your Fears and Become a Great Speaker

"All the great speakers were bad speakers at first." - Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1860

You are already a great speaker. You give great presentations every day.

Think about how often you successfully communicate your ideas to loved ones, co-workers, or acquaintances. You make a simple point. You choose language that they understand and to which they can relate. You answer their objections satisfactorily. You close with them agreeing to do something you want them to do. You just employed the great elements of a successful speech.

Then you are asked to speak to 15 people about a subject you know something about. (Why else would you be asked to speak?) You become scared to death. You have a totally different mindset about "public speaking" than you do about "daily conversations." Why? You’re scared because you think you don’t know how to communicate. You think you have nothing important to say. You think you don’t know the correct way to phrase your thoughts. You think the audience will disagree with you. You think the audience will dislike both your ideas and you personally. You don’t think you can persuade them.

You plod on, prepare your speech, rise to deliver it and all of a sudden, you experience one or more of the following "stage fright" symptoms.

Why don’t these speaking problems occur when you’re talking to loved ones, co-workers, or acquaintances? They don’t usually occur because you’re relaxed when you speak to people with whom you are familiar under comfortable circumstances. More than anything else, relaxation is the key to delivering great presentations to groups. Delivering presentations in conversational tones is one of the easiest ways to force yourself to relax.

You can be a great speaker. You give great presentations every day. Adopt the same mindset when you’re speaking to a group that you have when you’re holding a regular conversation. These simple tips will enable you to be a great public speaker.


Randall P. Whatley

Randall P. Whatley

Randall P. Whatley is president of Cypress Media Group, an advertising, public relations, and training firm. Cypress Media Group provides training primarily related to business and technical writing, presentation skills, and media relations. He can be reached by e-mail at randy@cypressmedia.net.

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