This article was originally published on Deanna’s blog.
I’m just starting out in my career so I am by no means an expert on Public Speaking. I’m just speaking from my own personal experience. However, within the next few months, I will be doing some speaking engagements on and offline, so it is important that I mentally and physically prepare for them.
I’ve recently created an “others centered” module to remember and to use as a guideline for when I speak in public in the future. I’m going to call my “others centered” module the E.E.I.I. module. By now, you are probably scratching your head and asking, “huh?” with a blank look on your face. So, to diffuse your confusion, I’m going to lay it out for you like this:
Public speaking is all of the above. When you go up to a lectern to speak, your audience will be expecting you to give them all of these things. It is up to you, dear speaker, to give them what they want. Your audience may care how you are dressed and if you overuse ‘uhs and ‘ums’, but they won’t care if you slip up on the occasional word or phrase, or if you pause for a moment to collect your thoughts. Pausing is good. It is what creates suspense. If you pause for a second or two, you will leave your audience on the edge of their seats, wanting more. As much as they expect you to deliver your speech well, they want to see another human being upfront, someone who is relaxed and down to earth. Believe me, I’m working on the latter half of that last statement.
On the other hand, first impressions are crucial. A good first impression can make you as much as a bad one can break you. There are a number of bad qualities that you don’t want to portray when you speak in front of an audience.
1. People do not want to see someone who is trying too hard. If you are upfront speaking with the intention to impress, your audience will pick up on that.
2. Never apologize for mistakes. If you make a small blunder, keep moving along. Don’t stop and apologize for it. Chances are, your audience will not pick up on it. But, if you stop to apologize, not only will you halt the flow of your speech, you will draw negative attention to yourself.
3. Never belittle or slander anyone, regardless of how much you dislike them. That is the mark of an amateur; it draws negative attention to yourself, and you never know; someone in the audience might know that person you are slandering. Be professional and be neutral.
4. Don’t talk yourself up. There is no place for arrogance up front or anywhere for that matter. The worst thing you could do is make your audience feel insignificant. People don’t want to hear all about you. They want to be included in the message and they want to feel like they can apply that message to their own personal lives. Remember, we are all created equal, so humble is the way to be. Humility is the key to anyone’s success in this life.
Before you give a speech, write down a list of what you hope to accomplish and how you plan to portray yourself in front of your audience. If you are feeling very nervous before your upcoming speech, take some Rescue Remedy or try doing some breathing exercises. These kinds of exercises will relax the body and help clear your mind of all anxiety. Most importantly, remember that you are the giver of information. Your job is to educate, engage, inform and inspire. If you can ‘E.E.I.I.’ your audience in your writing or in conversations with family and friends, then you can do the same when you speak in public.
Deanna Proach is the author of a historical suspense novel, ‘Day of Revenge’. She is also the Sergeant of Arms at her local Toastmasters group.