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Make numbers work for you

Speakers can use numbers to support key points. But too often, speakers use their data in place of key points, piling on number after number and, in the end, driving their audience to despair. Here are a few tips on how to use numbers to good effect.

Blast Off to Big Results: Openings Set the Tone

When you stand up to speak, you have no guarantees that your audience will listen intently to your every word. We all know that behind those "I'm-all ears" looks, your listeners' minds can wander. Think about how much your mind has wandered during other people's presentations!

You can't gain support, sell ideas, or push a new initiative if people aren't listening. So, it's your job to shatter that fixed facade, grab your listeners' attention, and hold on tight. You have to earn their attention right from the beginning of your talk. Here's how:

Plan. Plan your opening words carefully. Don't stumble into your presentation with a hackneyed "Today, I'm going to talk about..." Say something meaningful (even bold!) that will grab the attention of your audience immediately. Don't lead up to it with trivialities. Think about your audience's single biggest concern within your topic, and speak directly to it. There are a lot of different ways to open a talk; just make sure you ichoose one that begins with substance and matters to your listeners.

Rehearse. Stand up and deliver your opening out loud several times prior to the talk. Make sure you can do it comfortably and reliably. For most people, the first words of a presentation are the hardest. Make certain you know yours well enough so you don't have to worry about them. By spending extra rehearsal time on your opening, you can turn the hardest part of your talk into the easiest.

Get ready. When the time comes to deliver your presentation, you will want to be focused, in control of your voice, your body language, and those pre-presentation jitters. So, before you stand up to speak, practice some "stage fright" prevention. Use our tips for breathing easily to warm up. If you have a chance to exercise or go for a walk before your presentation, do it. It's important that your mind and your body are ready to deliver a powerful presentation when you arrive in the room.

Connect. Make an immediate connection with your audience. Look 'em in the eye. Before you begin, find a "focus person" for your opening. The focus person should be someone who is sitting toward the back of the room and roughly in the center. Ideally, this should be a person who will listen attentively and will be a friendly face for your first sentence or two. Remember to establish your eye focus first, then take a fresh breath, and, only after you have a full tank of air, begin to speak.

Leap. As much as possible, jump right into your talk. Get right to the point. Try to avoid any long preambles or explanations. Deliver your opening just as you've practiced it, right to your focus person. Once you've landed your opening, the rest of your presentation is more likely to go smoothly. And, you will have gained the attention of the audience right from the start of your talk.

Stop ... and go. After you deliver your opening, pause. Let your words sink in for a second or two. Next, link that opening to the body of your presentation. Make sure your audience sees how your opening leads into your first point. There's nothing worse than gearing everyone up with a great opener, only to let everyone down by wandering off on other track.

And they're off... You delivered your opening and linked it to your first point. You've set the stage for your success. You've got momentum heading into the body of your presentation. You're out of the gate and rounding the bend. Just make sure to keep your head up, eyes focused on your audience, and charge ahead with an energetic and effective presentation.

 

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In The SpotLight. Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing

A perfect book for those who are afraid of speaking or performing in front of others.

spotlight

This book provides many different methods and strategies to help you get beyond stage fright and learn to speak or perform with ease and confidence. This book will also help anyone who is self-conscious and uncomfortable in any social situation. You will discover how to:
* Dramatically decrease your feelings of fear, discomfort, and loss of control associated with speaking or performing in front of others
* Minimize your uncomfortable physical symptoms associated with fear
* Significantly reduce the dread of anticipating a speaking or performing event
* Eliminate your need to avoid situations of speaking or performing because of fear
* Create a relaxed and confident state of mind and body in preparing to speak or perform
* Break through your fear and create an inner peace around speaking and performing that you never imagined possible!

 

Author:  Janet E. Esposito, M.S.W. is considered an expert in helping people with stage fright. She has been helping those who have high levels of public speaking and performing anxiety for over a decade through her Getting Over Stage Fright Workshops, individual phone coaching (or Skype) sessions, her two books on the subject (In the SpotLight and Getting Over Stage Fright), her In The SpotLight CD, and her free newsletter and podcasts, which can be found on her web site at www.performanceanxiety.com. Janet is a licensed clinical social worker and has had a private practice for over 25 years. She is a graduate of Smith College School for Social Work. She did her undergraduate studies at Rutgers University and has a bachelor's degree in Psychology.

 

You can buy the book from Amazon or the Book Depository

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[Quick public speaking tip] 3 Ways you need to use listening if you are speaking to persuade

It's not just speaking ... when we speak to persuade.

Successful persuasion also lies in the ability to actively listen, even, and especially, in the field of public speaking.

 

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Successful speaking to persuade relies on knowing your audience.

What are their needs and wants?

How are they thinking about your proposal?

What are they likely to favour about it?

What is going to stand in the way of them being persuaded?

What are their doubts?

What are their objections?

What are the obstacles to them moving forward with your suggestions?

Listen to them - before the presentation - survey them, talk to them, ask the event organiser about them - and listen.

Listen to them - during the presentation - ask them questions - and listen.

Successful speaking to persuade relies on seeing moments where you can gain agreement - maybe a comment or question from your audience, a situation from which you can draw an analogy, maybe a report back from a group discussion.

Listen for those and keep a line of thinking open that will allow you to use those moments to really amp up the energy of your speaking response.

Successful speaking to persuade relies on your being adaptable. It's one of the lessons I teach in my workshops and seminars on PowerPoint. Be prepared to change the course or direction of your presentation. If it seems that your audience puts value on one point or discussion over another, or if the feedback, comments or discussion suggests that a different direction would work best, then be prepared to change the structure of the presentation that you had prepared in advance.

This means that not only is your structure working for you. It also means that you are building trust. You care enough about your audience to change direction for them and you are confident enough in your material and your beliefs to change direction for them.

Listen, then, to their comments, to their suggestions and the tone of their discussions.

So I have covered three areas of listening that will build the success of your persuasive speaking - knowing your audience, watching for opportunities to ramp up the energy and being adaptable.

Do you use any other listening techniques to successfully persuade?

 

Author:  Bronwyn Ritchie is an outcomes-driven, award-winning speaker and mentor, a story strategist at Pivotal Story Solutions and publisher at Pivotal Magazine.  She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. Want a boost to your confident, effective speaking success?  Click here for Bronwyn's FREE 30 speaking tips. Join now or go to  http://www.30speakingtips.com or visit her website Pivotal Public Speaking

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Quick Public Speaking tip – Gestures, naturally

gestures

Natural gestures are basically the aim for any public speaker.

We watch an excellent speaker, and maybe we notice their gestures.

I said "maybe" because if he or she is an excellent speaker, we should not be noticing their gestures.   We should be taking in the whole package as a message,

without noticing how it is done.

A major measure of excellence in any sort of craft, of course, is not noticing how it was done, unless we deliberately look or search..

If you suspect that are not a natural gesturer, ask yourself

"Is this a cause for concern?"

What does it mean to be "not a natural gesturer"?

Probably this is a person who is self-contained and does not need to gesture to keep their brain functioning or the speech flowing.

Not a person of flamboyance.

Why does it matter?

Get a second opinion, and a third and a fourth if necessary.

It may be that you are communicating successfully without many gestures.

If the feedback says that you need to improve -

and the reason given is that your presentation feels wrong, or rigid or unnatural

(NOT for the reason that it doesn't fit a set of rules that someone feels should be followed for no other reason than that they are rules),

then you can work on them.

The first step to take is to learn to stand with your arms wide open.

Get comfortable doing that.

Feel grounded doing that.

Feel yourself expand out to the audience doing that, while remaining grounded and in your own space.

Once you have established that feeling, it may be a simple progression to loosen up and become expansive with gestures,

flowing along with the emotion and flow of your speech.

If not, then you can learn to gesture - there are any number of general styles and specific movements that I have shared with clients over the years, but those who needed them were quite few.

Find the gesture,

then practise it, and practise it, and practise it until it becomes natural and flows with the language it supports.  If it is not natural or flowing, keep practising until it is does, because otherwise it will look incongruous and you may as well have not gestured at all.

I remember my days of representing my high school in competition speaking and being coached to put my finger on my nose when talking about people putting on sunscreen.

For days it felt weird, contrived, uncomfortable.

Eventually, though, with days and days of practice and a supportive teacher-coach, it became natural and I could produce it naturally.

It felt good.

It felt right.

It felt appropriate.

And furthermore, having relaxed through that performance, gradually, I learned to relax into natural gestures.

That was a child, nervous, aware of a very critical judgement as she spoke, and aware, too, of the people who had put in so much effort so she could win for them and the school.

With adult clients, I find those who need some guidance to "loosen up", generally do so quite naturally as they learn to believe in themselves and their message, along with the practice of standing with open body language and relaxing.

If you speak with passion - for your subject and for your audience's outcomes - your body will support your message.

Even if you make no gestures, your stance, your facial expressions and your eye contact, will work powerfully to support that passion and your message.