Tips for Public Speaking Anxieties

Public Speaking Tips - Getting Over Anxieties

So, you're up to conduct a speech to an audience you may or may not be familiar with. Although you prepared long and hard for that moment, there is always a high possibility that you may feel some sort of discomfort. It is not unusual for speakers, and especially those who are first-timers, to get that gut feeling as the nervousness begins to settle in. Don't fret, because there are some simple ways to get rid of that annoying feeling so you can carry out an amazing speech without difficulty.

The 15-second Sweat

The moment you go on stage and settle yourself at the podium or at the center, you are going to feel that heavy feeling for almost the first 15 seconds. This is very normal because your body is adjusting to the situation at hand, and the anxiety feeling is an automatic response. But, this feeling can result in prolonged agony for others where it involves into stuttering and unnecessary body movements - things that could destroy the whole public speaking experience.

The simple work around is for you to take a deep breath. Studies show that taking a deep breath reboots your body senses and puts you into your calmest, which is exactly what you need to be in order to deliver your speech with minimal flaws. This is one of the public speaking tips that reduce tension by a huge margin because you're rejuvenating your body in the process.

Stuttering Worries

Eloquence is a vital asset in delivery, and the bane of eloquence is stuttering. This is very common among speakers who are not comfortable in talking in front of a huge crowd. Also, stuttering can destroy the overall intent of the message because the audience would not understand a thing - and take note, they only remember 25% of what you say!

What you should do is to speak slowly and clearly. Make sure you register what you say in your mind before delivering it so you get the right level of emphasis and tone to present your message's intent. Keeping things on a rhythmic flow will help you deliver your message properly and increase audience retention with one of the great public speaking tips.

Mental Block Pains

The worst thing you can ever encounter is that mental block pain that occurs midway into your speech. Especially when you're on a roll, that awkward pause is not going to do you any good because communication is disrupted. That mental block feeling comes when you least expect it, and you do not want it to ruin your good speech.

Although it may be difficult to prevent mental blocks, the right course of action is learning how to recover from it. Experts simply recover from a mental block moment by making the awkward pause an intended one. This requires you to make a witty statement so you can get back on track with your speech. Others insert a random fact and connect it to the speech.

Whatever your choice is, always focus on the goal of getting back on track. Remain spontaneous and cool about it and your audience may not even notice you had that choking moment.

Public speaking has its hurdles, but with proper coordination and simple recovery techniques, you can deliver your speech with minimal flaws.

The ABCs of Creating Concise and Effective Voicemails

A strong voicemail message is one that is clearly understood and is short and to the point. This detailed message needs to be left within a very short amount of time.

Here are some great guidelines you can start using right away that will make your voicemail messages effective and concise.

1. Before you leave a message, ask yourself this question: Is this voicemail necessary? If you are leaving a message just to tell the person you will call them later, then this wastes their time.

2. If you are leaving a voicemail to answer a question, you won't want to end your voicemail message by telling the person to call you back. If all the information you needed to say is in the message, then there should be no reason for the person to return your call.

3. It helps to plan what you are going to say ahead of time. You might even want to write down one or two important points to include, but no more than this.

4. The first thing you should say is your name. "Hi, this is Andy Walsh from ABC Company".

5. The second thing you should do is leave your call back number. Even if the person already has it, they may not have it right in front of them. If you are calling someone within your company and know them very well, you can leave just your extension number. If the person is calling from outside your company, leave the full number.

6. Next, quickly get to the reason you called. "The reason I'm calling is...", or "I'm calling because..."

7. Speak slowly and clearly. Your listener doesn't have the advantage of being able to see you, so he/she will need more time to process what you say. In addition, an accent will take additional time to understand, given the difference in pronunciation of some sounds.

8. Try not to use "filler" words like, "um", or "oh".

9. Voicemails really shouldn't be longer than 30 seconds. If there is a lot of information, you must leave, then try to keep it under one minute.

10. At the end of the message, leave your phone number again. Although you already gave your phone number at the beginning, give it again slowly. This gives the person another opportunity to write down the number, in case he/she missed it the first time.

11. You can end the voicemail message by saying a variety of things, depending on how well you know the person. A few examples might be:
"Thank you, and I will talk to you soon".
"Please call me at your earliest convenience".
"I'll see you at the meeting tomorrow".

Build A Career With Your Public Speaking Skills

Do you enjoy public speaking enough to make a career out of it? If so, here are some ideas for you.

Consider doing public speaking at colleges and universities. Do you have a message you'd love to deliver to an impressionable young audience? Maybe you want to teach them something, warn them about something, or inspire them. If that sounds like something you'd like to do, here's some tips:

Create a brochure about yourself as a speaker that you can mail to different colleges and universities with a letter introducing yourself, and offering your services.

Offer either your speaking fee- (I recommend charging $5,000 for a 2-3 hour speech). Or consider doing your speech for free...and at the end of your speech you can have your products at the back of the room for the students/faculty to buy.

Some products you could offer are things like audio cd sets (that you can record yourself). Have a book or a pamphlet put together for sale that you've written. Compile a bunch of exercises, facts, and resources in a three-ring binder and sell that! Offer business cards with your picture and your speaking service. If done right, you could make a lot of money offering your products at the end of a magnificent speech!

Maybe you would rather speak to young children or the elderly. Perhaps you'd rather speak to middle aged business people or moms. Whatever group of people and subject matter is most appealing to you, there is a way to make it work. I firmly believe that 85% of doing something you love for a living, really rests on your belief that you can do it and be successful at it.

Whatever the group of people you choose to speak to, find out where you could deliver a speech to them that would appeal to them. Where would they like to be? Nature people probably want to be outside. Business people like conference rooms. Students like auditoriums. Moms like to get out almost anywhere, but for a moms group I'd use a hotel conference room or a nice neighborhood clubhouse, depending on the size of the crowd.

Be sure to have something for everyone who attends. This can be a small giveaway, even bottles of water and mints. This lightens the crowd and makes everyone happy to have come. They might be more apt to buy something or spread the word about you/ your speech, if they got something at the end. At the very least, it will put a smile on their faces. Hope this article was helpful! Much success to you in your speaking endeavours!

Lessons From a Former Preacher (About Public Speaking)

A pastor speaks a lot. He or she has a multitude of speaking opportunities - sermons, Sunday school lessons, special meetings, and board meetings just in one week! These engagements don't automatically make him a good public speaker because practice (or opportunity) doesn't make you perfect; practice can create ruts where poor skills can settle in. A minister can get comfortable in front of an audience, but that comfort may translate into getting used to (unknowingly) boring people week after week.

Like any public speaker, your experience affords you lessons if you are paying attention. I've learned a few over the years:

  1. IF YOU CAN'T SAY IT IN A SENTENCE, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY. Crafting a sermon every week was difficult, often heady, work. It was easy to get bogged down in the details of translation, culture, history, theology, and application, let alone developing good structure. Early on in my career my sermons were 90% details and 10% of the good stuff (my point). I eventually discovered that studying and compiling the details was necessary for my preparation, it made me competent to speak on a given subject or passage of scripture. But all that information wasn't necessary to share an idea - I needed to get to the point sooner. As a result, I started boiling my messages down to one sentence. I was going to say that one sentence, if nothing else. By doing this, I clarified my ideas, got to the point quicker, and left people with a clear idea or action that couldn't be lost in the delivery. Boil your next speech down to one sentence before giving it.

  2. USE YOUR SPOUSE (OR CLOSE FRIEND) AS A REFINERY. Preparing, practicing, and delivering a speech with out any outside input is a bad idea. Why wait to get feedback until the Toastmasters meeting? How often do we give that speech a second time to refine it? (This would be a good idea) So why not give that speech to your spouse or friend and let them help you improve your speech? My speeches have always improved dramatically as a result. So call up your mentor and get together to practice and refine your next speech.

  3. THE SOONER YOU LOSE THE SCRIPT THE SMOOTHER YOUR DELIVERY WILL BE. I used to write my sermons out word for word. This is a good thing. Crafting important sentences word for word starts on paper or computer. But ask yourself, "Do I want to be sure I say everything just like I wrote it OR do I want my delivery to be smooth and authentic?" I've kicked myself for missing elements in a speech, but never regretted not having a script and presented in a way that was pleasing to the audience. Having a really simple outline can be very useful in staying on track - just don't get glued to the outline either.

  4. PUSH BEYOND YOUR COMFORT. My comfort zone is different than yours; we are all wired differently. But we each have limits to what we feel comfortable with. Push beyond your limits. If waving your hand is a bit awkward, then waving both hands is pushing beyond. Public speaking is very similar to drama - exaggeration is an asset. You have people's attention, so keep it. 75% of communication is body language - don't forget to use it!

  5. PROP UP YOUR MESSAGE. We have more than one sense (hearing), why don't we utilize more sensing in communicating our message? Talking about recycling? Why not bring in some tin cans, pass around plastic bags, set out some really good mulch for people to smell?

We all wish we had learned some of life's lessons earlier in life. But that is what life does - teaches us lessons over a lifetime, not overnight. Everybody can benefit from joining a Toastmaster club to refine their presentation skills; I wish I had discovered Toastmasters at a younger age, but sure am glad I discovered it when I did. Toastmasters gives me more opportunities to practice what I've already learned and continue to learn even more about leadership and presentation.

Um's and Uh's: Eliminating Verbal Filler When Presenting

I have seen many presentations in my life, and one really bad habit that I have seen afflict presenters of all ages and experience levels are verbal fillers like Um and Uh. These little devils can find their way into every nook and cranny of your speech. Often people will not notice them directly, but if they hear a presentation with many of them and then listen to a presentation with none or only a handful, subconsciously they will hear a BIG difference.

Some argue that they say um and uh because they haven't sufficiently practiced the material. While I think there is some merit to this argument, I do not believe this is the primary reason that people say these fillers. I believe it is first and foremost simply a bad habit. I have seen people who have practiced a presentation many times and who are experts in their field regarding the topic they are presenting (so lack of knowledge is not an excuse) inject their presentations with hundreds of um's and uh's (yes, I've counted).

I believe that eliminating this bad habit is easier than it seems at first, especially if you're willing to put even the smallest amount of effort into stopping it. One way to help yourself eliminate this habit is to ask others to count the number of uh's and um's (and other filler words) that you say when you present. This may seem like a burden, but it's actually easy and in some ways fun for the people doing it (it's always easier to be a critic than a presenter - but that's a topic for another post). Try it yourself on someone else's presentation, and you'll see. If you do count someone's verbal fillers, I have found the best approach is to lightheartedly ask them after the presentation (and away from other people) if they would like to know how many Um's you counted. This engages their curiosity and makes it less of a big deal. This approach isn't perfect, but it is much better than going up to them and saying "You had 235 Um's in your presentation. You suck."

The first time someone informed me of how many uh's and um's filled my presentation was in 2005. I had just finished giving my first practice run of a training class that I would give to astronauts and flight controllers as part of the Training Division as NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. My instructors, who were all certified instructors in the Training Division and had taught many astronauts in their careers, were merciless in their feedback on all aspects of my practice run, from the technical content to my delivery of that content. "Stop jiggling your leg." "Why are you looking all over the place instead of at your audience?" "You said um X hundred times. Cut that out!" It didn't take me long to cut out those um's after that.

Another way to help yourself eliminate verbal fillers is to record yourself on video. This is the most painful but effective way to help not only reduce this bad habit, but all other elements of your presentation style as well. If you don't watch video of yourself to get direct feedback on your actions, which is what most professional athletes do, you will be hard pressed to achieve speaking skills above a certain level.

Using these tips, you should be able to eliminate (or almost eliminate) verbal fillers from your presentations. Once you do, you will find that your message comes across much cleaner and more forcefully. And at the very least you won't have people like me counting your um's anymore.

British English Voiceovers Get a Good Positive Reception - Why?

British Voiceovers: Higher Trust & Conversion

There is no such thing as a British English voice; England has a hugely diverse range of English accents. Scouse from Liverpool, Geordie from Newcastle and Brummie from Birmingham; all strong and all, to the English at least, instantly recognisable, even if not always understandable!

For some people, the Cockney Rhyming slang (that used to be) a typical East London accent is the English accent; think Guy Ritchie's films like Lock Stock and Snatch, not the bombmaker from Ocean's 11...

For others, it is the Queen's or King's English that is a true English accent. For others, the latter is quite a posh, aristocratic accent.

My accent is naturally close to the BBC's Received Pronunciation (RP) because I grew up in Sussex, near London. What does this mean? I benefit from the ingrained stereotypes that see the British as trustworthy, honest and authoritative (think David Attenborough).

People worldwide react in different ways depending on how someone sounds when they speak. A British voiceover over a video will feel different than an Australian or American accent.

In England, you might be interested to know how much accent matters. People judge your class, which is still important in England, based on your accent; even if the two only have a historical correlation.

Studies show that people with posh British accents make people more likely to get good reactions from others; be more trusted and have more authority.

The typical British English accent is almost a passport to a good reception internationally; though the British foreign policies often thwart this. The British shouldn't act like this, is occasionally the cry. But this is based on the idea of a history of British playing saints worldwide.

But let's face it; they often weren't.

The British Empire didn't expand to encompass the world because of good manners and red-coated soldiers.

No, the British used all sorts of underhand tricks. They lied to enemies and allies alike, promised this and delivered that.

But their success gave them the luxury of grace. The general becomes the gentleman, polite and engaging.

Years later we see people like the great ad-man David Ogilvy use this Britishness to sell; to sell and succeed.

This is the principle that underpins the success of British expats in business abroard. It is the fun promised in the film Love Actually, in which an English chap visits America and is swarmed by beautiful American girls who love his accent.

Despite the fall of the Empire - the UK budget deficit has just passed a trillion pounds - the traditional British stereotypes persist.

Stereotypes of English Gentlemen, bowler-hatted and playing cricket, never lying and always believable.

Even now, the BBC World Service broadcasts with clear diction and authority into homes worldwide, refreshing and enforcing these stereotypes.

David Attenborough may have the best voice for believable, trustworthy videos in the world. His British accent is his mark and profile.

So much of sales is trust. If someone shady sidled up to you in a bar offering cut-price macbooks, you'd be right to be suspicious; it just wouldn't sound right.

But who wouldn't buy from Prince William? Trust, authority and believability are necessary to sell anything.

You can spend years building up this trust through bare sacrifice and 18 hour days.

Trusted stereotypes that the British gentleman has developed over years and years; and which a large amount of British-speaking people benefit from by birth.

On the Internet, businesses are choosing a British voiceover artists for anything from narrating sales and marketing videos, to website introductions, to voicemail messages. Whenever there are client interactions, a British accent aims to make the impression of the brand more trustworthy, authoritative, and worth doing business with.

Public Speaking Training Can Reduce Pessimism

A client mentioned recently during our public speaking training session that she tends to be a pessimist and that she thought her tendency was affecting her public speaking ability. She asked me what she should do to turn that around.

Begin with awareness

I believe that change begins with awareness and acceptance of your current status, accompanied by deep-seated desire to change and a long-term commitment to move toward the status you want to reach. In my experience, permanent change is a gradual process. It takes time, it takes awareness and it takes patience. I think many of us are aware of our current status but we're not aware of the limitations that our view of the world can place on us. That's totally normal, by the way. We all develop perspectives on our lives. Those perspectives often limit us. And because they've been with us for so long, they just become part of our "reality", even if our perception of "reality" is holding us back.

Work with strengths

Our early life experiences tend to define who we think we are. I know this because I have lived it, particularly when I was a young man from a small town who came to Toronto. But we can rise far beyond what anyone would have ever expected, based on our early-life trajectory to excel and do much more than we might ever have imagined. We simply have to recognize our strengths and work with them to move forward toward greater life potential and satisfaction, including the ability to speak confidently in public.

Perceptions persuade

Your perceptions can persuade you to withdraw from experiences in an attempt to protect someone you may have been at one time long ago. The problem is letting those old values and identifications get in the way of current reality. And the current reality may be that you are a mature, intelligent, sophisticated, powerful person whose old perceptions are no longer working for you and instead are working against you.

The hard part

So what can be done? Well, like I said, it begins with awareness and acceptance. Once you become aware and accept, you have to decide if you want to change. And that's where the hard part begins. It's hard because so many of us grew up in environments where people tried to hide who they were, expected others to take responsibility and leadership. Most of us grew up among followers, not leaders. That can make us afraid to take responsibility. In a community where those around us were directed by others, we never learn leadership. And that makes the concept of leadership a little intimidating and frightening, particularly in a large, highly competitive city like Toronto and the GTA.

People want leadership

Too often, capable people are concerned that if they excel and stand out from the crowd they will be considered "uppity" and "too big for your britches" by those around them. But here's the dichotomy: Most people WANT leadership! They want someone strong up front to show them the way and to deal with the issues. They may carp, complain and criticize but they don't want to be leaders themselves. Why? Because they're terrified of taking responsibility.

Risk can be valuable

It took me a long to time to realize that. Sure, everyone wants to be on top but the problem is that most - almost all - of those people don't want to take any risk. But life - real life, not just existence - is about risk. I'm not talking about foolish risk. I'm talking about researched, measured, responsible risk. If we never step up, we get left behind. Responsible risk can be a very valuable thing.

Create affirmations

So how do we get from pessimism to optimism and the confidence to speak in public? One good route is to create a list of positive affirmations and repeat them as often as circumstances allow. You can learn about positive affirmations here: The article will suggest some affirmations but you can make up your own and they will probably be more powerful for you because they will relate directly to you.

Appreciate the good stuff

Please understand that affirmations are just meaningless mumbo jumbo if you just mouth them without feeling them. You need to look at yourself and your life, pick positive things and really appreciate them. Most of us take all the good stuff in life for granted and complain about what we don't like. It should be the other way around. We should treasure the good stuff and take the bad stuff for granted because "stuff" is going to happen but, for the most part, we're very well off. Positive affirmations are about really appreciating the good stuff.

It takes time

It takes time, it takes patience, it takes self-forgiveness when we slide back a bit. But if we're really committed to making change in our lives it really is possible. Whether it's public speaking, skiing, sky diving or just looking in the mirror and liking what you see no matter what's happening around you, positive thoughts about the little things can take you a long way.