10 Myths of Presentation and Public Speaking

  1. I’m better off winging it – The problem with improvisation is that it’s terribly haphazard! You’ll need some landmarks to stop you going off track. A mind map can help to plan points without scripting.
  2. I need to write out my full speech before I speak – Do you? What a hassle! A script can take longer to write than notes and is much more difficult to edit. Even more importantly, we don’t speak as we write: the language may be different and sentences are usually shorter.
  3. … and then memorise it – Hence the cause of crippling nerves and blanking out! Make life easy on yourself: remember where you’re going and where you’ve been and you’ll find it easier to know where you are now without having to memorise anything.
  4. Nerves are bad for Presentations and Pitches – Actually, if you can control your nerves instead of letting them control you, the nerves become adrenalin. In time, you’ll learn to enjoy the freedom of speaking in public (yes, I did say ‘enjoy’!). Techniques to do this, include breathing, anchoring and visualisation. More about this in future blogs.
  5. Make eye contact – Merely looking up from your cue cards or taking a break from your PowerPoint is not making eye contact. Getting a response from people by looking at them is.
  6. Begin with a joke – Unless you are a comedian, try something a bit safer. There are other, surer ways to make your audience comfortable and get a response, like those on the spice rack in this brochure. Humour is often in integral part of a familiar situation but shouldn’t be treated as a technique of its own.
  7. You can’t change your voice - Your voice is as unique as your fingerprint. But you can change it by enlarging its scope in range, speaking on different pitches, making it resonant and using different rhythms, and clarifying your articulation. It takes training and practice.
  8. Always introduce yourself at the beginning – Think of how many times you’ve been out and got talking to someone. 10 minutes later, you realise you don’t know each others’ names. A presentation or pitch works the same way: first grab attention, then say who you are. It also makes you calmer as it reflects what we naturally do when chatting to people.
  9. ‘He’s a natural.’ Just because a person has the ability to get up and talk before a group of people does not necessarily make this person an effective speaker. If a speaker is effective, s/he has most likely prepared over a length of time, gathering creative, pertinent material that have personal importance. Then s/he puts orders those thoughts clearly, using methods to engage an audience.
  10. Squeeze your buttocks - OK, maybe this isn’t a common myth but I heard someone suggesting this during a radio interview. How I wish it had been television so that we could see him walking around like he had a bad case of haemorrhoids. The rationale is that it stops women getting shaky legs when speaking and men should squeeze their thighs. The speaker obviously wasn’t a performer otherwise he’d have used some more useful methods.

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