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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
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
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
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
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
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
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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