Thursday, January 04, 2007

More on Successful Public Speaking

Today, the third installment on having a successful public speaking experience.

We may not like having to speak in public, but in today’s world, it’s essential for an author to get out and promote his or her books. And part of marketing your books is speaking. That can include reading at book signings, teaching classes, conducting interviews or leading workshops.

Yesterday, I covered what to do to get prepared to give your talk. Today, what to remember and do during the speech and afterward.

Relax. Someone somewhere gave the advice that to help overcome stage fright, you should imagine everyone in your audience without clothes. Excuuusssee me? That would not relax me. A naked audience would be distracting and trying to mentally undress them would take my mind off what I'm trying desperately to remember to say. Leave their clothes on. Relax. If I'm nervous, I do deep breathing before I have to speak. You know when it's getting close -- your introduction is starting or the little red camera light goes on. That's the time to close your eyes, breath in, and slowly exhale through your mouth. Do that three times. (Assuming the camera is pointed at the host and not at you, of course.)

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. One year, when I emceed the Violet Crown Book Awards, I wore heels. I don't wear heels, hardly ever. When I arrived, I checked out the stage and imagined myself going up and down those stairs over and over. I wobbled my way back out to the car and traded my pumps for flats. If you're comfortable walking in heels, then wear them. But a speech is not the time to try out new shoes, or tight pants, or that slinky, low-cut dress, or a jangly bracelet. No, don't wear your favorite torn up jeans and beer t-shirt. But dress so you can move, stand, sit, bend, and walk comfortably. The more comfortable you are, the better your speech and the more fun the audience will have.

And finally, after it’s all over and done with …

Keep track of your speeches. That way, if you're invited back, you won't repeat yourself. Plus, you'll have a copy of your talk so you won't have to re-invent the wheel every time you speak to a new group. With minor adjustments to fit the group or situation, you can give the same speech over and over.

And there you have it. Those are the basics.

You can do it. If you’re scared of speaking in public, remember, the actual speaking is not nearly as scary as the dread. Follow these steps:
  • Prepare
  • Don’t Memorize
  • Relax
  • Wear Comfortable Clothes and Shoes
  • Keep Track of Your Speeches

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