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Powerful Presentations For Nervous Public Speakers

Sep 12, 2008
If speaking in front of an audience scares you more than death itself, it's time to fight this fear and get up and just do it! When we confront our fears, we grow with new knowledge and train ourselves to handle difficult situations. If you train yourself to confidently speak in front of large groups of people, you will increase your value at your company or in your own professional life. Public speakers earn more money and have greater job security.

Here are seven useful tips to improve your presentation in front of people:

1: Use the 80-20 Rule.

Did you know that 80% of your material must be information your audience already knows? I know it sounds strange, but think of it this way: when we advanced through school, each year's lessons grew from the material from the prior year. For instance, we learned the alphabet, then words, then we strung sentences together; and then we studied structure, punctuation, grammar, paragraphs, and so on.

80% of school is improving yourself from the previous year. This is how we learn. To make the 80% of material interesting, simply add your own unique personality. Then connect the 80% with the 20% of new material and you will hold your audience's attention. Learning is about seeing old material in new ways and making familiar connections to new material. If you reversed these percentages, you would lose your audience's attention.

2: Know Your Audience.

Research your audience. Who are they? What is their education level? What do they know? What do they want to know more about? When you can answer these questions, you are on your way to creating a powerful presentation for your audience.

3: Plan Your Presentation.

After you choose a topic, decide on how you want to present it. Will you use visual aids or audio cues? What is your purpose? Maybe you want to inspire some sort of action or response from your audience, like buying your products. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Know your material inside out and outside in. Your audience should have no doubts that you have earned their trust to talk about this subject.

Briefly tell your audience what you are going to tell them - then tell them, and tell them what you just told them. This will reinforce your message.

4: Work Out Your Flaws.

To succeed at anything, including public speaking, you must practice. Present your material in front of the mirror; notice your posture; practice on your family and friends; imagine delivering your presentation to a thousand people as you practice.

Does your voice project, or does it crackle under nerves? Could a person sitting in the back row hear you clearly? Are you using vocal variety including volume, pitch, and tone? Are you pacing too fast, slow, or just right?

5: Over the Top Enthusiasm.

Having enthusiasm will ignite passion about your subject into the audience. Enthusiastic words and visible gestures will inspire your audience's minds and move their bodies. They should be sitting on the edge of their seats hanging on to each word you speak, ready to take action at your beckon call. It is difficult to remain attentive to a boring, monotone speaker; it is impossible to turn away from somebody who shows great enthusiasm.

6: Make Your Audience Feel Good.

Give lots of praise and be personal. Create positive feelings. Thank your audience for attending and let them know they make you feel honored to be speaking with them. Tell them a funny story about yourself. Maybe it was when you were on stage one time and messed up your lines. If you tongue-tie your lines at any time while speaking, slip in a quick joke about it and keep going. Remember, most people in your audience are scared to death of public speaking. Try to sound natural, and human.

7: It's Not About You.

Your presentation is not about you, and it's not even about the presentation. It's about how the audience responds to your presentation. When you can divert your attention from your fears and your negative self-image, you will find it's easy to be intimate with your audience.

You have to "feel" your way into your audience. You have to know when they are drifting, what puts them at the edge of their seats, and with what they agree or disagree. You can make this type of connection if you step out of your own fears and anxieties and into the collective psyche of your audience.

Ask many questions. Rhetorical questions are great. This engages the mind. When you ask the audience a question, people will answer -- whether they use a physical gesture, answer aloud, or answer the question silently to themselves. The mind works that way. Does that make sense?

Effective speakers jump at any opportunity to speak publicly; they move out of their own insecurities, focus on the audience, and get personally involved with their messages. Practice, practice, practice. Speak naturally from your heart. Allow your presentation to flow in the direction of your audience's wants, needs, and interests.
About the Author
Brian Scott is a contributing writer for http://www.LousyWriter.com, a free website on how to write better. He recommends public speakers visit http://www.MasterFreelancer.com for english writing software to help write speeches and presentations.
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