CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – MAY 9, 2021 (PT.2)
Some incorrect assumptions about those who are expert public speakers:
- That expert speaking is innate.
- Instead, all public speakers have a learning period — it is just that some got an early start than others by participating in social activities that forced them to develop a comfort zone (i.e. church, debate, theater, recitals — even living in a large family)
- That great speakers are fearless.
- All speakers have fear — they just learn to manage it.
Fear management requires reinterpreting public speaking environments in ways that promote positive performance. See the following handouts for specific examples:
- fear management tips
- samples of reinterpretation
Examples concrete ways to manage fear:
- Channel a coach-like pep talk…in your head
- Breathe in and out in a deliberate fashion, drawing in breaths from your belly rather than your chest
- Use “lucky charms” like teddy bears, pieces of clothing, jewelry
- Listen to “pump up” music on an iPod or other listening device
- Seed the audience with supportive friends or friendly faces
All effective public speakers, consciously or not, use these tactics to improve their performance. Doing so consciously and consistently allows a speaker to minimize nervousness at any time.
III. Handle questions fearlessly
Handling Q & A is one of the more intimidating, nerve-wracking aspects of public speaking, whether the speaker is a graduate student or seasoned professor. With some specific tips and practice, the Q&A session can become one of the strongest parts of your repertory.
- Tip 1: Do not let difficult questions scare you. Most assume that tough questioning indicates that the audience is unpersuaded by one’s argument and presentation. Very often the reverse is true, especially in academic audiences, where it is called “engaging with the material.” Seeing a tough question as an opportunity may help alleviate nervousness and improve performance.
- Tip 2: Preparation can improve performance. Anticipating possible or common questions and pre-preparing responses increases confidence and impresses audiences. Many public speakers secretly hope that certain tough questions are never asked when, in fact, being ready to deal with tough issues head-on can increase persuasiveness. Having pre-scripted outlines or word-for-word responses may be especially useful.
- Tip 3: Having a structured method of answering questions can improve one’s persuasiveness. Often the manner in which one answers a question matters as much as the content of the answer itself. Structuring responses can help significantly. See the handout for methods of how to answer questions and how to handle situations where one does not know how to answer a question.
- Tip 4: Consider your posture and body language. Avoid: folded arms across chest, hands clutched together in front (i.e. the fig-leaf position), hands in your pocket, and other hostile- or defensive-seeming positions. Practice what to do with your hands by watching videos of public speakers, classical singers in concert, etc.
Make It A Champion Day!