ArticlesPublic Speaking

How To Start With Public Speaking

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I don't know how many books, articles, manuals and scripts have been written on that topic. But, I am sure that now there is one more. So why do I dare to write another one? Because I have to contribute a different perspective. I found that all these "how-to" writings about speaking focus on 2 basic things:

1. How to overcome the fear of speaking in public

2. How to write and deliver great speeches.

Both attempts focus around techniques. They are well intended receipts, cook-book like laundry lists of ingredients and more or less good description on how to put all that stuff together to come up with an edible meal.

Yet, if you want to be a cook you don't start with reading receipts but with developing a love for your area of expertise.

Think about it, have you ever heard about someone that was exceptional in his area without deeply loving what she does? I haven't. If you want to be successful and a top professional in whatever you chosen to become your profession you need to have a deep love for the subject or you eventually will fail.

Without passion for what you do the pain of learning and repeating the required skills eventually will become paramount and stop you before you achieve the heights of true professionalism.

So, this is not an article for someone that wants to learn how to prepare fast food, but for those that might have a hidden desire to become great speakers.

If you want to become good at speaking, you need to have a desire to become good and a passion for your subject matter. No technique ever can replace that. It is a prerequisite and techniques are the ways you do it.

There are a lot of myths around speaking and even more around the techniques. Stage fright is a one of the favorite topics for techniques that mostly have been given birth at a writer's desk rather than being the essence of experience. What is stage fright anyway?

Stage fright is nothing more and nothing less than insecurity.

If you feel insecure, you start fearing. If you feel unconfident, you start fearing. If you believe you will fail ? if you still have the concept of failure in your mind ? you start fearing.

Nothing special with stage fright though. And because stage fright is just another fear, the cure is the same as for any other fear.

Get confident, get passionate, built self-esteem.

How do you get confident? Know your outcome and have a plan to go from where you are to where you want to be.

Translated to a speech that means, know what you want the audience to learn, have a good knowledge about the topic you are going to talk about and have a clear, precise map (your script) about where to start, where to end and what to say in between.

If you have these basics in place, your confidence will be as high as possible and you managed to eliminate the first reason for stage fright, lack of confidence.

Ok, but how can I get passionate about my topic you might ask? Well, if your topic doesn't excite you how can you belief it might excite someone else?

Unless you find something exciting about your topic you won't convey your message anyway. Bottom-line is, if you don't have to share something exciting don't share it, don't deliver a speech on it.

The good news is that there is something exciting in every topic. Just look long enough, change the perspective, increase the frame, be curious and you will find something you can become passionate about.

Now, we are confident and passionate but still there is one major reason for stage fright left.

Little self-esteem.

This is a hard one, isn't it? How to raise self-esteem?

Agreed this is not as easy as getting confident and passionate. But, managing this part is much more rewarding, as it will impact your whole being.

If you belief that you are mediocre or worse unworthy you have to change that belief. If you have the belief those others are better and that being better means worth more than you, you have to change that belief.

If you don't, you will depend on what you think the others might think about you and be sure this thought is not very appealing. Not because the others might think bad things about you, most don't even care enough about you to have second thoughts anyway, but because you tend to think others think little of you. It is you that produces your thoughts.

This is not an article about changing limiting belief systems, but unless you develop a healthy self respect and the idea that you have something to say, you will not have a remedy for stage fright.

There are several concepts or beliefs that raise self esteem. Some of them are:

?I am as important as any other human being but not more.

?I have more experience in what I talk about than anyone else in the audience. (Which is always true even if there are subject matter experts in the audience, because you wrote the speech not them)?

?There is no failure only feedback.

?If someone else can do it, I can do it too given I use the resources and develop the skills that someone used.

?I am a passionate and powerful person

? No one in this world is above or beneath me

? I have to contribute something to others

Once you have high enough self esteem and a well prepared speech on a subject matter you feel confident about, you will not have stage fright anymore.

But, please don't misinterpret excitement with stage fright. Every time I give a speech, I am totally energized. My body starts producing adrenalin and I am really excited.

I used to misinterpret that with stage fright because some of the feelings, in my stomach for example, seem similar but this is pure excitement. This feeling will get lesser once you start your speech most of the time (unfortunately).

Once you are on stage and start your speech your full focus must be on delivering your message.

Here comes another problem with techniques. Some will tell you have to constantly monitor your audience. If you take that advice and you are a junior speaker you are going to go through hell during your speech.

Why? Because as a starter you have enough to do to focus on your speech itself, to focus on you being congruent and powerful, passionate and excited.

If you focus on the guy in the first row that yawns every two minutes I can ensure you that your self-esteem is going to deteriorate even if you think you are pretty good.

Don't focus on your audience, focus on your message. With repetition and increasing experience you will start getting more flexibility on acting with your audience, but for the inexperienced speaker the advice to focus on the audience is pure venom. Sometimes I even tend to think it was invented by a great speaker to prevent competition.

If you can focus on something else than your speech, focus on two other things:

1. Your voice

2. Your posture

This is really important. Never, and I mean never, mumble or talk in a way that is not clear and articulated. If what you have to say is worth saying it, it is worth saying it out loud.

You do not annoy others by speaking out loud. They are here to listen to you not to talk to their neighbor. So make sure they listen to you by speaking instead of mumbling.

Again there are advises like change your tonality etc. These are good advices for someone that has already some experience. For the starter there is only one thing important about your voice. IT MUST BE HEARD.

And here is my very last advice. Stand strong. Stand as if you had something important to say. At least this is what you do. You you say something important. Keep your head up. Don't look down to your feet, belief me they will not walk away without taking you with them.

If you can't stand to look into the audience yet, look at least at the fire exit signs above the doors. This way you make sure that your audience thinks you look at them and not at your shoes and you have your head in a posture that supports confidence.

And one last thing about posture. Raise your shoulders. Don't let them slack. Head down, shoulders down is a posture that leads most of us into unpleasant feelings, better known as depression. Try it, look down, and let your shoulders fall down do you feel energized or at least a little bored? If you do it long enough you will not only feel a little bored but depressive.

Now do it the other way around, raise your head, look up, raise your shoulders and, if you like to really feel different, smile. Now how does this feel? While in that posture try to get bored without any physical change. No shoulders slacking, not stopping to smile, head stays up. Can you get depressed in that posture or even a little bored? No you can't. If you don't belief me try it by yourself. It works.

If you mange to follow these 7 advises, you can be sure your speeches will be good. And by good I mean they will be better than 99% of the speeches given. This is pretty good I believe.

Don't expect to deliver speeches of the caliber Dr. Martin Luther King or J.F. Kennedy used to give, but starting with these 7 steps will ensure your speeches will be a success.

And maybe, who knows, maybe you become as passionate and determined to giving speeches to make it to the top .09% of speakers that change big chunks

This article may published freely only in its whole including all appendices.

? 2005 by Norbert Haag

Online Business Coach

Norbert Haag is a business consultant, entrepreneur and sought after speaker for more than 20 years. His company - Online Business Coach - provides information and services for online businesses, small business owners and freelancers.

You can reach Norbert at

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