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Top 5 Strategies To Effective Public Speaking

(category: Public-Speaking, Word count: 701)
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I was never a huge fan of public speaking. I was always very nervous and had this overwhelming feeling the audience was judging my every word. I now know how to overcome my fears and deliver a memorable presentation.

I have summarized for you the top 5 strategies I use to make sure every presentation is a showstopper.

Realize 90% of Nervousness Doesn't Even Show

The audience usually can't see the telltale symptoms of nervousness. The butterflies, the shaky hands or the sweaty palms. The key is for you to not focus on them either. You need to focus on the audience. When you do this two things will happen: 1) they will like you more, and 2) much of the nervousness that you feel will go away.

Don't Avoid Eye-Contact.

When we are nervous, it is a natural reaction to want to hide. When you are standing in front of a group of people where do you hide? You can't. So you will tend to look down or look away from your audience. If we can't see them they can't see us, right? Wrong.

The other trick people try is to look over the tops of their heads. The idea here is that by looking a peoples foreheads, they will think you are looking at them. Wrong again.

You need to look directly into people's eyes with kindness. Create a rapport with the audience through your visual contact. If anyone smiles when you look at him or her, smile back. This will make you, and the audience, feel more at ease and will make your presentation more genuine.

Identify three people in the audience whom you want to speak to: One on your left, one in front of you and one on your right. Deliver your speech to these three people. Look at each one for about 4-5 seconds and "switch target" to the next person. Don't maintain eye contact for too long. This will create an uncomfortable situation. You don't want to creep people out.

By using this technique, it will give the impression to the entire audience that you are making eye contact, because you are sweeping the room with your glances.

Don't Apologize.

Never start a presentation with an apology. By starting a presentation with an apology for your nervousness or for having a cold, you are drawing attention to something the audience may not have noticed. You are also announcing to the audience, "the presentation you are about to receive is less than you deserve, but please don't blame me."

Avoid Rushing Monotone Voice.

A fast paced monotone speech is a sure-fire way to make your audience feel unimportant. It will also cause them to lose focus and become bored. How many lectures did you sit through in school listening to a monotone professor drone on about whatever subject he was teaching? How much of those lectures did you actually remember?

You don't want to subject your audience to this same torture and you want them to remember what you talked about.

You can easily avoid monotone messages. Before saying a word think about the value of your message. Think about the aspects that create passionate feelings. Think about speaking clearly with compassion. Smile. Tell yourself a joke. Take a huge confidence breath.

Use eye-contact, positively say "you," and flow with the message. If you do, you'll hear, "I felt like you were speaking specifically to me." That's one of the best compliments you can get. And it proves that you're speaking TO not AT the audience.

Limit your talk to a few key points.

Narrow down your topic to either one key point for a short talk, or three key points for a longer talk (a talk longer than 30-minutes). Ask yourself, "If my audience only remembered one thing from my talk, what would be the most important thing for them to remember?" The more points your presentation has, the less focus the audience will have on each individual point. Once you have your key points, then create your PowerPoint slides.

If you remember these five key points, you will be sure to knock-em dead

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Be Confident Even In The Face Of Confidence Killers

(category: Public-Speaking, Word count: 540)
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You can be confident! All you have to do is rid yourself of confidence killers. Confidence killers are self-defeating thought patterns. Many of us walk through life with these harmful assumptions.

See if you've got any of these evildoers in your thoughts:

1. The All or Nothing Sniper:

This way of thinking is the reason you can't seem to enjoy even the small wins you've been getting in life. I'll bet you were the kid in school who went home crying when you got one wrong on a test!

You think you are a complete failure when your performance (whatever it is) is not perfect. You'd be confident if you didn't spend so much energy being so hard on yourself!

2. The Dark Cloud of Destruction:

Look out! There is a disaster hiding behind every corner. Expect it. The Dark Cloud of Destruction makes you think silly things like: 'I failed my chemistry test; there is no point in even thinking about college, now.'

3. Warlord of Negative Magnification:

If you listen to this confidence killer you'll never be confident. He's got a warped idea that if it's good- it doesn't really count. He'll take any little negative anthill and magnify it like it's a mountain.

If you won 8 singing contests but had a cold for the 9th and came in second, he'll harp on that ninth and you'll never look at the 8 trophies as the great achievements they really are.

4. The 'If I feel it, it must be so' Monster:

This is like a computer worm that shuts down all the clear thinking parts of your brain! A person with this can never be confident until they learn that how they are feeling doesn't necessarily match up with the truth. We all have days when we don't look our best or perform at our best.

The 'I feel stupid so I must be stupid' syndrome allows us to let our emotions run our lives. Don't blindly accept emotions as truth. Be confident enough to think that tomorrow you probably will be feeling different.

5. The Sinister Should:

Perfectionists are good at should statements. Should statements are more about what your think other people expect from you than what you really want.

Should statements can be something like: Everybody should have an education plan. The person then thinks ' Oh, no! I don't have an education plan! There must be something really wrong with me.'

6. Libellous Labeller:

Let's throw this one in jail and throw away the key. You know the thought. It's the one that we use to blame things on something. 'I am a loser. It must all be my fault.' If you are going to think labels, label yourself a confident person.

7. Compliment Constrictor:

This creepy crawler just can't seem to let you accept a compliment. For once, if someone tells you that you look good in that dress, don't let the slimy one takeover and say: 'Really? I think it makes me look fat!

The good news is that recognizing any of these villains is half of the battle. So put on your white hat- train yourself to cancel these confidence-killing thoughts.

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How To Develop A Dynamic Story

(category: Public-Speaking, Word count: 30)
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Story telling is a very effective way to get your point across. Here are some tips to help you develop a dynamic powerful story.

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Improv Comedy For Speakers

(category: Public-Speaking, Word count: 620)
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Public speaking. For some, the mere thought of getting up in front of a group of people and presenting a speech is more terrifying than heights, snakes, or even death. Imagine how terrified those people would be if they were asked to get in front of an audience and speak with nothing prepared in advance - no script, no speech, no nothing.

Sound crazy? Well that is what Improvisational Comedians do every day. Improvisational (or "Improv") Comedy is a form of theater where a group of actors take the stage with nothing prepared in advance and use audience suggestions to create instant comedy. If you have ever seen the popular television show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" then you have seen Improv Comedy.

The skills that allow an improviser to create instant comedy can immensely help any speaker to be more comfortable and powerful from the platform. Here are three reasons why, if you want to be a more effective speaker, you must learn how to be a great improviser:

1) Improv Comedy, at its core, is about self-expression. An Improviser has only himself on an empty stage. Every idea he puts forth comes from inside of him. The best improvisers realize this and trust their instincts and let their ideas flow out. Similarly, the best speakers realize that the audience is there to see them. Rather than hide behind other people's ideas or style, they are 100% themselves as they speak. Many speakers make the mistake of taking acting classes to be more "dramatic" as they speak. The result is a speaker that looks fake and wooden. Audiences don't want "dramatic;" they want natural. Practicing improv comedy techniques can help you be much more natural.

2) Improv Comedy is an interactive format. Improvisation may be the only art form where the audience is present at the time of creation. As a result, the audience's needs, wants, and mood can be taken into account to direct the content. Great improvisers feed off of a crowd's energy and build content the audience appreciates. The performer pays attention to the audience and makes subtle adjustments as she goes. Speakers would do well to adopt this approach. Most speakers prepare their speech in a vacuum and deliver it exactly as practiced. However, every audience is different. If a speaker pays attention to the audience as she is speaking, she can also make subtle adjustments to increase her effectiveness (adjusting pacing, energy, volume, etc) If you do this, not only will your speech be more powerful, but you will also develop that coveted "rapport and connection" with the audience.

3) Things will go wrong. A speaker who relies solely on what they've memorized will be easily thrown by the distractions that invariably happen. If time gets cut, or a cell phone rings, or a heckler demands attention, the speaker will have no response. To an improviser, distractions are just one more tool to use to make their point. A key improv attitude is to "go with the flow." As a speaker, this attitude will allow you to be unflappable from the stage. You will be deemed a true professional, and audiences will admire your ability to handle interruptions.

These are just three simple ideas that are a powerful way in which improv comedy can make anyone a more powerful speaker. There are many more ways related to all aspects of speaking: content, delivery, storytelling, style, humor, etc, but these three are the perfect starting point.

If you have never done or used improv, then consider taking a class. Not only will you learn useful skills for speaking (and life), but it will be the most fun class you've ever taken!

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The Long And Winding Road To Machu Picchu

(category: Public-Speaking, Word count: 575)
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Have you ever wanted to do something crazy?

Have you ever wanted to walk on the wild side?

Have you ever wanted to leave the office environment and never return?

Driving up to Manchester one autumn's evening in 1995, I decided something had to change.

The three hour journey from Leicester had turned into a six hour marathon, again.

It was cold, damp and desolate stuck in the endless lines of slow moving cars.

In my briefcase sat an unsigned and rather overly negotiated contract extension for my job in Leicester. When I finally arrived in Manchester at 11pm, bored, hungry and miserable - I knew that I could not face another winter of living and working out of a suitcase. It was time for serious change.

The week before, I had been stuck on a train for hours heading down to London.

The woman sat opposite me had left her travel magazine on the seat when she alighted at Luton. I had read my newspaper back to front and on the second time of reading, I found nothing new.

I reached over and killed a little time by flicking through the glossy magazine, but each time I thumbed the pages, my eyes returned to page 34 which advertised a five month trip to South and Central America. Setting off from Ushuaia in Argentina (the most southerly City in the world) and finishing in Mexico City. The itinerary read like a Who's Who of top travel destinations.

Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Punta Arenas, Pucon (Mount Villarica - 10,000 feet active volcano), Bariloche, Esquel, the Argentine lake district, Santiago, Valparaiso, La Serena, the Atacama desert, Arica, Nazca, Arequipa, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, La Paz, Manaus, Angel Falls and so on...

Do you get the picture?

Travelling on a converted truck and free camping, the lucky adventurers would experience the full range of South and Central America's charms. Having never been camping before and with my thirty-fifth birthday celebrations still ringing in my ears, I suddenly realised that I was confronted by a serendipitous 'once in a lifetime' opportunity. Would I break the mould of my boring office life or step out bravely into an adventurer's world?

I was single, no obligations and I had the money. What is the point in having a big bank balance while life was passing me by?

The following Monday morning, I handed my notice in. Contract discussions had been delayed and I had only ten working days to endure. It seemed like forever before I was released from that working purgatory.

Once the deed was done, I was walking on air. Skipping down the corridor and whistling 'El condor Pasa' - I never whistle...

It was a euphoric experience - the weight of meetings, ironing work shirts and driving those endless miles up and down he M1 had dissipated into nothingness. Top priority on this project manager's list was buying outdoor gear, expensive sleeping bags, boots and all weather jackets.

And there was one place, one destination that I was focussed on - Machu Picchu in Peru - I had read so much about it and I knew that it would be the highlight of my journey...

If you want to find out exactly how my crazy decision turned out... then click on the link and follow my path on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

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Public Speaking Why All The Fuss

(category: Public-Speaking, Word count: 502)
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When asked, the majority of people in the US would claim that there greatest fear is getting up in front of a crowd and giving a speech. People 100 years ago would not say that public speaking was their worst fear, but they had more threatening things to worry about right? I'm talking about things like war, and wild animals, and rampant crime without great law enforcement. The fact that our society is more tame is perhaps part of this strange fear of a relatively benign circumstance but doesn't explain it entirely. I want to discuss why we are so afraid and measures that can be taken to put our fears to rest.

So why are we so afraid of public speaking? Well for one thing not very many of us are good at it and we don't know how to get better. Public oration was a skill highly valued in the past and therefore it was something that was worked on with much effort and time in school. Part of the reason that more people that were schooled in speech making in the past was because school was really only for those to whom the skill would be beneficial. What I am trying to get at is that only the "gifted" children were formally trained in such skills and the rest of kids worked on the far and never had the need to make a speech. With the requirement of grade school, and the assumption of a college education, there are more people than ever that, in my opinion, shouldn't be there in the first place and will never use the skills they may gain in the second.

So first we are not good at it, second we don't for the most part need to do it regularly, and third as mention in the first paragraph threatening has taken on a whole new definition in this relatively safe society. So why are people called on to do public speaking that don't have the natural skills, desires, or regular practice that they need to be good? Well that is a function of the vast middle class in this country who think they are good enough to carry on the traditions of the rich and famous, but who lack the upbringing and training that make a person truly gifted in the art of public speaking. Famous examples would be graduation addresses, wedding tosts, eulogies, etc. We, I think, expect too much of ourselves and therefore are definitely afraid of the inevitably horrible job that we are going to do?

My answer? Well either imagine all the horrible things that are much worse than the agony of embarrassment. Or you could actually take the time to get trained (not recommended unless your job requires that you do it all the time). Or you could just give up on the senseless traditions of the past that were required of people that were much better trained to do public speaking.

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Bring Your Presentations To Life And Get A Standing Ovation

(category: Public-Speaking, Word count: 98)
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Presentation techniques are the tools that help us to bring a page of written text to spoken life. They are the means by which we animate words, inject interest and build audience rapport. Learn the following 7 techniques and you'll have your audience clinging to every word you say.

1. Speak To Their Ears. Remember that your audience receives your words through their ears. They aren't reading it. That's why you should continually ask yourself, "how will this sound to my audience?". In particular, you should check for...

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5 Ways To Liven Your Audience

(category: Public-Speaking, Word count: 170)
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Has a boring speaker ever put you to sleep? Your head begins to nod as you fight off the urge to slip mercifully into the Land of the Z's. Or has your mind ever wandered during someone's dull presentation? Although you appear to listen intently, what you are really thinking about are the million tasks waiting for you at home.

Sure, this has happened to all of us, more than we would like to admit. However, don't let it happen to you when you are the speaker. The key to keeping your audience from taking a mental exit is to involve them in your talk. Yes! Studies show that the more you involve your audience, the more they retain. Why? Because they are listening!

You can involve your audience in several ways, and I have listed 5 of my favorites below. Select those that will work well with your presentation and that feel genuine to you. If it feels uncomfortable, it will look uncomfortable

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Stop You Re Both Right

(category: Public-Speaking, Word count: 330)
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Cyberspace has certainly shrunk the margin of error ...

Colloquialisms used to take quite a while to become embedded in a local vernacular. For example, the Americans expunged the British from the colonies in 1789, but based upon personal letters exchanged between the two countries which have been noted by historians, it took until the 1830s before comments were made noticing a distinct difference in accents between them.

Local dialects will always be a fixture in geographical cultures. However, as more and more of us traverse both cyberspace and the real world, basic pronunciations are becoming a bit of an issue.

I just noticed this again in the world of sport, when a national broadcast featured the recent darlings of NCAA basketball, Gonzaga University from Spokane, Washington. The locals there insist that the name be stated as 'Gon-ZAEG-ah,' but inevitably, sports announcers from elsewhere defer to 'Gon-ZAHG-uh' until corrected by the locals.

However, the Gonzaga name has been a part of Italian history since the 1300s, and anyone who has studied it or been exposed to it from that much deeper context knows that the correct pronunciation is 'Gon-ZAHG-uh.' Ludovico Gonzaga not only established his family's dynasty over the Italian state of Mantua in 1328, but his family became a cultural and military force in that area for the better part of five centuries.

You'll even note that the Spokane university has an extension program in Italy and still steadfastly maintains its preference for the colloquial pronunciation. Trust me, in Europe, it's called 'Gon-ZAHG-uh.' However, alumni from the Spokane campus, from Bing Crosby to John Stockton, learned to refer to their alma mater as 'Gon-ZAEG-ah.'

This raises the age-old question of proper pronunciation etiquette, of course. Do we go with the traditional and accurate version of a proper name if we are aware of it or with the colloquial preferences which, for some reason, took hold in a certain area?

Another classic example is N

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