The fear of public speaking is the number one fear in the United States, something with which many businesspeople agree strongly every time they have to make a presentation. Some people shy away from giving speeches or sales pitches because they feel their personality doesn't come across well during a presentation. However, a combination of presentation skills and positive self-talk can turn that attitude around and help you add public speaking to your skill set.
Tell a Story
No one wants to listen to a monotonous lecture. Unfortunately, that's what too many business presentations are like — they remind you of that boring professor who put you to sleep in your college economics class. Turn your presentation style around by telling stories rather than presenting one slide after another. Our brains wake up when we hear a great story. We wait for the surprise twists, look for the conflicts and hope for the happy ending.
Whether you're giving a sales pitch or conducting a training session, try framing your public speaking as a story with a beginning, middle and end. Pose a problem, make it personal, point out the obstacles and then lead your audience to that happy ending. Don't be surprised to find yourself in increasing demand as a public speaker when you approach every speech as a storyteller.
Boost Your Self-Confidence
If you feel shaky about your presentation skills, chances are you've spent a fair amount of time convincing yourself that you're not very good in front of a crowd. If you want to increase your public speaking abilities, it's time to stop the negative self-talk and reframe the way you approach both your public speaking responsibilities and your skills. Stop short when you find yourself thinking about failure, and change your inner monologue.
Instead of focusing on all the bad things that could happen, visualize yourself as a successful speaker. Reframe the thought of giving a presentation to view it as an opportunity rather than a frightening moment. Just as the physical act of smiling is proven to make you feel happier, so too the mental act of telling yourself that you're capable and confident can boost your confidence in real time.
Solve a Problem
When you speak before any group, your listeners aren't focused on how you look, what your voice sounds like or whether you're reading from notes. They just want to know whether you can solve their problem. Whether you're selling a service or presenting a quarterly report to your division, focus on providing a solution to a real problem that your listeners share. Once you realize that they are eager to hear what you have to say, you can move beyond the superficial aspects of public speaking, proceeding with confidence and power.
Once you realize that successful public speaking is more about your message than it is about you as a person, stepping in front of an audience becomes easier. Prepare for any public speaking opportunity by framing your talk as a story and by focusing on providing solutions, and you should find that what you have to say is so well-received that all your fears drift away to be replaced by new confidence.
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