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Five simple tools to improve your public speaking

We participated in a 5-week Speak with Confidence course facilitated by the lovely Lee Ball and ten others from the Wanaka community. It was a blast and if you are thinking this is an area you would like to improve on, I’d highly recommend it. We laughed, we cried, we connected, and most importantly we shared our most intimate stories in confidence.

Lee Ball, Sally Norman, Marjorie Cook, Dave Vass, Claire Dooney, Jin Ong

Apparently a fear to speak in public is up there as the number one fear people have, even before death. It sounds extreme but regardless of whether that is you, or not, there are always areas to improve on when delivering a speech, introducing people, or sharing your personal stories with others.

Think of a person who is a memorable public speaker. You will notice instantly that they have a confident appearance, a voice that carries and speak with an easy progression of ideas. They have the power of persuasion, use captivating language, and have a knack of fully engaging their audience.

Over the course of 5-weeks, we put into action how to plan and prepare a speech, speech structure, impromptu speaking, introducing a speaker, body language, use of voice, words, visual aids, and listening skills. It was all amazing but we want to share here with you, the real gems we got out of the course.

1. Power Pose

Holding your body in a position of power for 2 minutes pre speech increases testosterone and lowers cortisol. This results in a calm confidence that you will feel and others experience. Stand legs apart, chest open and arms out wide. If you are sitting you can still achieve this by sitting up straight, chest open, legs uncrossed, head up, arms on your thighs or by your side.

2. Take a Breath

By taking 3-5 big breaths and bringing yourself into alignment, helps to slow your heart rate, creates a sound of authority, and supports sound to the end of the sentence where the important words come. Try breathing in for 3 seconds, holding for one, and breathing out for 5 seconds. Feel the air coming from your tummy and aim to bring awareness to your breath.

3. Positive Affirmation

Using positive affirmations will help to reduce nervousness with making you feel confident and powerful. Spend some time to come up with what feels right for you, and then use your mantra before you speak. For example “I am grateful for this opportunity to connect with others.” “I am a powerful, inspirational speaker.”

4. Passion with Purpose

Being passionate through your words, as well as visibly, will inspire, and convince others of what you are saying. It also establishes trust and connection between you and the audience. This will come naturally when you enjoy the beliefs you want your audience to accept. Be true, be genuine, be you. Your listeners will crave the intimacy and your stories will flow.

5. Tell a Story

Telling a story is a great way to deliver a meaningful, memorable message to your audience. It increases receptivity, captures attention, engages emotions and allows the audience to participate cognitively in your narrative. Make sure to draw on your own stories and experiences, not borrowed from another source. Practise, memorize and be authentic.

Finally, remember that you have something important to share, no matter how large or small the audience. Your stories are unique and designed to be heard. Identify the take home message for your listeners, and pitch the story well. Have fun, and don’t forget to smile.

Further resources we have found useful:

GSB Lecturer Matt Abrahams gives practical tips and tricks on how to make public presentations memorable, and how to get into the right mindset to be a successful communicator.

Communication is critical to success in business and in life. Concerned about an upcoming interview? Anxious about speaking up during a meeting? Learn and practice techniques that will help you speak spontaneously with greater confidence and clarity.


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