Presentation skills : Take the terror out of the stage

If you want to improve your presentation skills, you are in good company. Thousands of today's men and women are virtually interested in becoming better able to organize and present ideas. People all over the world, at work and in day to day life, want to speak competently and confidently to groups, both small and large.

Public speaking is a common source of stress for everyone. Many of us would like to avoid this problem entirely, but this is hard to do. Whether we work alone or with large numbers of people, eventually we will need to speak in public to get certain tasks accomplished. And if we want to be leaders or achieve anything meaningful in our lives, we will often need to speak to groups, large and small, to be successful.

There are several symptoms reported by people who have difficulty speaking before groups. Some are the physical symptoms of distress. These may begin days before making a formal presentation and show up in the form of a nervous stomach or sleepless nights. During the speech itself, symptoms of physical distress may vary from person to person, but can include any of the following:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Trembling knees
  • Quivering voice……etc

The truth about public speaking, however, is IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE STRESSFUL! If you correctly understand the hidden causes of public speaking stress, and if you keep just a few key principles in mind, speaking in public will soon become an invigorating and satisfying experience for you.
Key principles

  • Speaking in public is NOT inherently stressful
  • You don't have to be brilliant or perfect to succeed
  • All you need is two or three main points
  • You also need a purpose that is right for the task
  • The best way to succeed is not to consider yourself a public speaker!
  • Humility and humour can go a long way
  • You don't have to control the behavior of your audience
  • Your audience truly wants you to succeed.

Of course, you will need to practice. It's extremely easy to forget those principles. What is the best way to practice? Go out and speak in public. Join a Toastmasters' Club if you like. Take a course in public speaking. Better yet, offer to teach a course about something you know very well.

Just keep throwing yourself into the arena, and in no time at all, your skill, confidence, and natural ability will come to the surface. You will learn more on this at our series of work shops on "Unleash your Potential" organized through our "Education Times Club". Sujith Bandula (Marketing Manager - Times & Mirror Education, Competent Toastmaster/Leader)

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