Dynamic Business Logo
Home Button
Bookmark Button

Successfully run the public speaking gauntlet

It’s a human trait that many detest public speaking.

Yet like it or lump it, it’s a task that small business owners and entrepreneurs inevitably face.

Rather than bury one’s head in the sand, voice coach and director of Executive Voice Isobel Kirk says there are easy and fun exercises which can take the edge of anxiety off.

Just the same as professional actors, people practice and practice to get the very best performance possible, but Kirk says this could be part of the problem.

“Rehearse the failures, rehearse the stuff that doesn’t work. So if you can say to yourself, I’m going to go through it as though I was drunk. Or another fun way, ‘I’m going to do it as if I was my father, or as Julia Gillard’. And each time you rehearse you’ll find you have a moment where you’ll think oh actually that was quite good. You’re reprogramming your body to think ‘oh this is fun actually’ this is just a bit of play,” Kirk tells Dynamic Business.

Another helpful exercise is to consider ‘what’s my worst fear?’ “The answer may be that ‘I’ll mumble’, and if that’s the case, do practice the whole speech mumbling, anything that takes that school teacher ‘get this right’ voice out of your head,” Kirk says.

A key thing is to remember that your audience wants you to do well. “Nobody wants you to do badly – I think the key to all presentations is to make it a narrative, make it a story, tell them a story,” Kirk adds.

A fear of public speaking is also an issue which particularly plagues women. At the Release Your Inner Oprah workshop event held in Sydney later this month, SHE Business director and founder Suzy Jacobs will tell attendees that one area women definitely need to work on is voice.

“A voice lends authority, and because women tend to have higher and softer voices, that level of authority doesn’t always tend to come through,” Jacobs says.

Common mistakes that people make when they’re public speaking include reading their speech, and not taking into account the specifics of their audience.

“They’ll have a particular message they want to get across, and they won’t take into account their audience. So they don’t know who their audience is, and therefore they haven’t tailored it for the audience,” Jacobs says, adding “The biggest issue though, is not knowing the message. Superficial knowledge can very quickly become unstuck.”

Suzy and Isobel’s key tips:

  • Keep to a simple, straightforward message so as to not ‘overtalk’ your subject
  • Don’t rely on powerpoint too much to carry your message
  • When writing your speech ensure you write it as you will say it – not as you would read it.

What do you think?

    Be the first to comment

Add a new comment

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie is the editor-at-large of Dynamic Business. Stephanie brings with her a passion for journalism, business, and new ideas. On her days off, you might find her reading a book on the beach.

View all posts