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Pointers for Public Speaking
by Shaunna Privratsky

The University of Bradford states the results of a survey conducted among 3,000 US adults. They ranked the fear of public speaking number one, ahead of financial ruin or even death.

Giving speeches doesn't have to be petrifying. In fact, if you're prepared it can actually be fun and profitable to share your knowledge.

I can hear some of you objecting, "I'm a writer-why do I have to know how to give a speech?" Two words: promotion and publicity. Once you begin collecting published credits and your admiring public grows, you may find yourself the guest speaker at a writer's group, a conference, a workshop or even your own book signing.

The more proficient you are at presentation, the more promotion and thus the more profits you can enjoy. Give a great speech; sell books. Give ten presentations and increase your credibility and sales exponentially.

No matter how large or small the presentation, being prepared will ease your palpitations. Create an outline of all the points you wish to cover and add pertinent information. List priority items first in case you run out of time. Have filler items to use if you finish too early.

Practice your speech with a friend, spouse or colleague. The more familiar you are with your planned talk, the easier it will flow on the day of the event.

Wear comfortable clothing that flatters your shape, size and coloring. You know when you are looking fabulous and it adds an invisible layer of confidence. Pick fabrics that breathe to avoid sweating or wrinkling.

Bring props if possible. People enjoy visual aids and it focuses attention away from you. A book you're quoting, a picture of the subject of your story or an award you won are examples of peerless props.

Eat before you go even if your stomach is hosting a flock of fluttering butterflies. If you aren't nourished you won't be at your peak.

Be punctual on the day of the event. Arrive early to set up and greet incoming guests. Project confidence and poise even if you're shaking like a leaf. Your audience is sympathetic. They are there to listen and learn so try to relax. Pretty soon you won't have to fake poise, it will come naturally.

During your speech, please your audience. Decide beforehand if you want to postpone questions until the end or answer them as they go. Be patient with even basic questions and give pertinent answers. Watch for reactions: are you speaking at their level? Do you need to explain more, or skip the basics? The questions are a clue to how well your talk is progressing.

Speak with passion and purpose; don't ramble. If you go off on a tangent you might fail to make an important point. Don't forget to smile. It puts your audience at ease and projects openness and warmth. Making eye contact with various people projects a powerful presence and involves them in what you're saying. Refer to your notes, but be familiar enough with the material that you don't have to read it word for word.

Change position often. Move around even if it is only a few steps in either direction. Standing frozen in one spot can quickly lead to inattention and boredom. Encourage discussion and feedback. Build in questions for your audience members; everyone loves to talk about themselves. Throw out a few general questions right away to establish a friendly atmosphere of give and take.

Plan at least a fifteen-minute question and answer period at the conclusion of your presentation, even if you've answered some as they emerged. Some people may have questions that didn't come up in your talk.

End on a positive note. Politely thank them for coming. Pass out handouts at the end of the presentation. If you do it earlier it tends to take attention away from you.

Practice these pointers of presentation and you'll never be petrified of public speaking again.

© Copyright 2003, Shaunna Privratsky

Shaunna Privratsky writes fulltime from North Dakota, in between shoveling snow. Please visit The Writer Within at http://shaunna67.tripod.com. We are looking for new writers and we are a paying market.

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