The Wall Street Journal ran a great article called, “Your, Um, You Know, Public Speaking” . It talked about different ways to overcome your fear of public speaking that did not involve the “take-a-gulp-of-wine” method.
According to most studies, people’s number one fear is Public Speaking. Number 2 is death. In other words, people would rather die, before having to speak in front of people.
Some of the suggestions made were:
1. Join Toastmaster’s, a non-profit that helps its members improve their public speaking and leadership skills. 2. Hire a Coach or Consultant.
I was a painfully shy person growing up. When I started working for the Meredith Corporation, I was sent to Des Moines, Iowa to do a presentation in front of a lot of people. It was one of the worst experiences of my life!
After that debacle, my boss sent me to a Dale Carnegie Course for some help– desperate help. It was exactly what I needed. I enjoyed it so much, that I went on to be a certified Dale Carnegie Instructor. From then on, speaking came to me like second nature.
Over the years, I have done countless Keynote Presentations and speaking engagements. I’ve travelled all around the world to speak.
After years of practice, I’ve come up with 5 main things that I do when I speak:
1. Right before any speech, I always make it a point to greet and shake everyone’s hand. I try to get to know my audience and remember people’s names so that I can mention them during my speech.
2. I draw my audience in by starting with an incident that happened to me that morning or a story. The typical “Today, I’m going to talk about–“ routine is boring.
3. My presentations are structured around 4 main points. My goal is for the audience to walk away with at least one of my points. At the end of my presentations I always summarize what I talked about and mention my 4 points again.
4. After my speeches, I like to continue the communication with the audience. People usually give me their business cards afterward to receive my Tip of the Week.
5. If I meet someone who I would love to work with or that I really resonated with, I like to write them a personal note via snail mail.
The most important thing is to keep speaking, as it’s the sign of a great leader.