Public speaking is not an art

December 13th, 2012 by Ken

Everyone, at some time or another, gets called on to make a speech.  Those in leadership positions get called upon more often to make a speech, run a meeting or in some way, place him or herself in front of other people.  Public speaking is a requirement of those in leadership positions.

And yet, survey after survey, study after study has found that public speaking is the number one fear among all people.  Fear of speaking in public outweighs a visit to the IRS, a trip to the dentist or a day at your mother-in-law.  Everyone’s number one fear is speaking in public.

Even our top entertainers are not immune from it.  It was said that comedian Jack Benny, used to get stage fright so bad, that he would throw-up before he went on stage.  And I know for a fact that one of the best drummers in our community gets stage fright before each performance.

Yet, public speaking, for those in leadership positions, is a requirement and a necessity.  Good leaders, like good entertainers, learn how to overcome fear and deliver the expected response.

In my nearly 40 years of involvement with local community groups, I’ve been called upon often to make speeches.  Here are some of the lessons I have learned.

Know your material.  Know what you’ve been called to speak about.  The better you know your material, the more confidence you will have.  I write out my speech, practice it and practice it, until I can deliver it perfectly.  Most people never know whether I’m speaking from memory or speaking from notes.

And, after I’ve memorized my speech, I carry a little note card with me which contains key points I want to emphasize. I seldom have to use it, but just knowing I have it in my pocket and can use it if necessary, gives me more confidence.

You should also know your audience.  A speech that is a hit with one group, can fall flat with another group.  You should gather all the information you can about your audience before giving your speech.

And finally, it’s easier to give a speech in front of your friends.  That’s why I always arrive early, stand in the back of the room, and greet people as them come in.  That way I feel like I know them and feel like they’re my friends.  When I get up to speak, I’m speaking to a roomful of friends.

Public speaking is not an art.   The more opportunities you get to speak, the better you will become.  The little points that make the difference between a good speech and a great speech will come with time.

Posted in Business, Informational, The Real News

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