In our technological world where texting, emailing and keeping up with social media seem to be the communication methods of choice for practically all of us, with so many electronic means at our disposal you'd think the need to contact each other the old fashioned way, face-to-face, would be rapidly becoming obsolete. What a surprise to find that when sharing information, people still want to look each other in the eye and hear a real human voice, which explains why many people are discovering that they really need to know the art of public speaking.
Where does the truism come from that some people would rather die than give a speech? Interestingly enough, it's not the actual fear of speaking. It's rather who is listening. Or more specifically, what does the audience expect while they're listening? And can the speaker live up to those expectations?
When asked what their number one fear is, most people say, "Being judged."
Have you ever been forced to listen to a speaker who made you work to stay awake? Some speakers hold your attention by making you feel like the most important person in the audience. Others look like they couldn't care less whether you were there or not and made you feel they wished they were anyplace else but here.
Many people feel that speaking in public is like walking barefoot on hot coals. You can see their discomfort. They can't stand still. They constantly shift their balance from one foot to the other, like marching in place.
When you're preparing a speech, what should you say first? What should your opening sentences be?
It all depends on a number of important variables, some of them obvious, none of them difficult to deal with.
First of all, who is in the audience and how many people are you speaking to? This is a key question to ask when you're creating your speech. What kind of a group is it? A fundraising event, or the monthly meeting of the local Chamber of Commerce? A company conference or a roast, toast or retirement farewell party? A wedding, sales meeting or something else? Knowing who and how many you're speaking to is the first clue to what to say first.
Here we are at the end of the first month of 2018 already. Doesn't time fly when we aren't looking? Whether your New Year's Resolutions were a formal list of goals or just a couple of wishes tossed out over a convivial cocktail with friends, at the moment we made them, were sure we'd keep them. And some of them we actually do. But most of them, truth to tell, are probably left by the wayside or forgotten by the time February rolls around.
Many folks came up to me last year who said they'd like to improve their speaking abilities, get over their fear, look for more opportunities to speak to groups, but... There's always a 'but'. What does that 'but' really mean?
Question: What do overcoming the fear of speaking in public and holiday gift-giving have in common?
Answer: We use the same principles to give a speech or to give a gift!
We've just spent a lot of time thinking of the folks on our holiday gift list. We took into consideration their likes and dislikes and the financial limits we all agreed to observe. Then we tried to come up with something they'd appreciate that they didn't have before, that would make them feel we cared about them. And when they smiled and said, "Thanks, I love this, it's just what I need!", we knew really meant it.
This is a great technique for overcoming the fear of speaking in public.
If we break down the elements of our gift-giving technique, we find three simple principles: