In business, and life it is essentially important for you to be able to get your point across, whether it is to patients on a one to one basis, whether you are giving a formal presentation to an audience, presenting to your team at a meeting or presenting to your referring dentists, you are always communicating. If you want other dentists to refer patients to you, they will only do so if you are outstanding in front of them. Even when you conduct team meetings, you are selling ideas to your team; they will only take them on board if you can convince them. The fear of public speaking is very real. However, there are techniques to help you overcome your fears. There are even ways to help harness your energy in a positive way.
Here are a few tips I have passed on to thousands of delegates over the last 23 years, all over the world, that I have coached on how to improve their communication to groups of people, and here are a few tips that will help you.
1.Prepare, prepare and prepare some more
Nothing takes the place of preparing. I will often spend 50 hours over a period of time to prepare for a one hour talk. This is crucial to my success and I cannot stress the importance of this amount of preparation.
2.Practice, practice and then practice some more
Practice and prepare for your speech. Write out a list of your key points, but don’t read it out word for word. Prepare for your speech so well, that you could answer any possible question thrown at you.
3. ELIMINATE fear of rejection
“What if my audience hates my speech? What if they boo me off stage?” Try to eliminate all of your fears of rejection. The audience have travelled to see you, taking time away out of their busy schedule to hear you speak. They are there because they want to, no one is forcing them. When you speak try to get into a rhythm or a flow. Keep your sentences short and to the point and repeat key points. A short pause in between points can add anticipation to what you are going to say next.
4. Remember people’s biggest fear
For most people their biggest fear is speaking to groups of people, remember this when you deliver your talk, most of the audience would not dare do what you are doing.
5. Practice your speech in front of the mirror.
Pay attention to:
– Your facial expressions
– Your gestures
– Your body movements
– How welcoming you appear
When you have gentle expressions and a calm demeanour as you speak, you will be more welcoming to your audience
6. Work on your breathing
When you focus on your breathing your voice will have more resonance and you will relax. Breathe calmly and focus on getting into a rhythm.
7. “The only way to learn to speak is to speak and speak, and speak and speak, and speak and speak and speak.”
When someone asks me how they can build effective communication skills and improve their public speaking, I quote the words of Elbert Hubbard, who said, “The only way to learn to speak is to speak and speak, and speak and speak, and speak and speak and speak.” So once you have put in lots of practice, then do one more final session. As the golfer Gary Player said ‘The more I practice the luckier I become’
8. Pick a subject that you care about
It is important that you choose a subject that you care about and can speak about it passionately
– The subject should have had an impact on you
– You want to share it with others
– You strongly believe that others could benefit from your knowledge
– You can speak about it from the heart
When you speak about something you passionately care about you will be more comfortable and feel more confident.
9. Focus on your material not the audience
This is important, I have heard many speakers tell me that they get distracted by the actions of their audience, for example if they are texting, or yawning or in some cases they don’t look too responsive to your talk. Focus on your delivery and do not get swayed by their actions.
Have some fun and even though I understand it is not easy, enjoy the experience.
11. Avoid talking too fast
Take your time when you deliver your talk, don’t rush, you have plenty of time
12. Audience participation
If you can get the audience involved in your talk, they will enjoy the experience more and also so will you. The more they get involved, the better the presentation will be, the quicker it will go.
13. Work on your opening
The audience will take about one minute to decide to listen to you or not. Have a very powerful opening and capture their interest straight away.
14. Have a powerful close
This is equally important as number 13. What do you want your audience to take away with them? Have an equally powerful close.
15. Focus on constant improvement
If you can record your talk then do so. If you cannot then, appoint a champion in the audience who can give you some honest feedback, so that you can improve on your presentation next time. Always strive to improve each talk that you do.