bannerAboutWritingTechnical WritingBooksBlog

Marketing | Book Tours | Public Speaking

There is a real, practical reason public speaking earned the reputation of being being more feared than death. (Beyond the Sienfield joke that started it) It just doesn't come naturally. We have to move, stand, and talk in a way that is different from how we would normally be. Its a skill to be learned, one most of us don't practice very often, guaranteeing we can't just sail through our first five or ten, or twenty events. Or any really.

Making it worse, we have all seen really, really boring talks. We dread being the person sending the audience to sleep. But the magic trick to keeping them awake seems just like that. An illusion meant to fool the eye. Which sometimes it is.

Picking your blurb and approach is something best left to work over with your agent. I don't have the experience and I don't know your book. What I do know are some realities about public speaking. You can thank a stupid number of years in theatre for most of them. Dumb luck accounts for the rest.

Basic, Physical Preparation

You will be tired after its over. It does't really matter too much how long your on the floor, your nerves will be ready for a break. Giving a presentation takes more energy than simply standing up and talking. So be kind to your body beforehand and take care of it.

1) Don't eat a huge, heavy meal right before hand. Whatever your opinion is on the "carb crash", digestion drags on your energy. But don't starve yourself either. You need enough sustenance in your system to keep you going, just not so much you feel like you have a rock in your stomach.

2) Do not, in any circumstances, eat an extra hot vindaloo the night before your speech unless you grew up with spicy food and don't suffer any ill effects. The same goes for anything else that could leave you feeling uncomfortable. Don't ask how I know.

3) Drink Water.

No I mean it. You are most likely going to encounter two things when you get out there. First: at some point your mouth will dry up, and it can do that quickly just by being stressed. Second: you won't have much time to top on the liquid once you're on the floor.

Drink enough to keep your body happy, but lets be practical, you don't want to run to the bathroom halfway through.

4) Don't workout till your exhausted on the day of the event, and take it easy on the day before. Its hard to appear comfortable when your body is swearing at you for that extra 5 lb.

5) Do not drink milk right beforehand, it can coat your throat in mucus and that's hard on projection.

6) Do not drink a stiff one for your nerves. It doesn't work and it dries out the vocal chords.

Basic, Psychological Preparation

Whomever started the naked audience cliche was a sick, sick man. I would be more scared of facing a room full of less than dressed people than basically any other venue. Keep their clothes on and think of something else, like the following:

a) Most of those people are glad they are not the one speaking.

b) You are not the one on show.

I know, I know. It certainly feels that way. But you just need to remember the audience probably doesn't know you all that well and there is more to you than what you can do with a laptop. If there isn't, you might want to find a few ways to build up your self esteem before throwing yourself to the wolves.

c) Unless you are super amazing or super awful most people aren't going to remember what you said much longer than being there. I realize that in the world of youtube and cellphone video cameras there is a very real fear that your hurried words will end up going viral. But chances are they won't. If they do it will blow over and be forgotten about eventually. Or turned into a reaction giff. I think those eventually go out of favour too.

Finally you may also want to give a thought to localization.

There is a strange truth to successful public speaking in the states.

Connecting with your audience is always more important than what you actually say.

That's how every politician gets elected. That's why Fox news continues to exist despite questionable credibility. In the U.S. If you want words to last, write them down. It's how you present yourself that will stick in people's minds. So don't worry if you lose your place, forget where you are in your book, forget your own name, just don't panic.

Unfortunately that is rather contrary to what is successful in the UK which is:

What you say is more important than how you say it, good luck connecting with the audience either way.

It doesn't matter how well you said it, if you're speaking total codswallup you're going to hear about it in the Guardian (if you're lucky). And the comments will be rather critical as well.

As far as other countries go I'm not sure. I am too scared to go to Australia and non-english speaking countries are also out of my expertise. Though with Greeks, my Mum can attest, they will simply communicate with a glance whether they think you are full of it, and you might never know.

I know, not rosy. I wish I could give you a warm hug, feel good message but I have to live with myself afterwards and I don't like public speaking either.


only search melissadevlin.com

Share/Bookmark facebook

 

Sitemap | Copyright | News | Contact
Copyright Melissa Devlin 2009-2014
Content available through CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Please see above link)