Public Speaking - do not be afraid


Samantha Arlow TV-Bay Magazine
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May 24th saw the first FBI Members ' event held in London, with guest speaker Jo Hind channeling her Media and Marketing experience gained from a career spanning TV and Digital for big hitters including AOL and Google into an entertaining and inspiring presentation titled 'Why women should speak in public, and how to do it '.

Whilst women currently make up only 10% of all speakers at industry conferences and seminars, the presentation could just as easily have been titled 'Why YOU should speak in public ' since a recent survey of our biggest fears revealed public speaking ranked higher than death!

So, for those mortally afraid of it, thinking of volunteering for it, or already breaking into a sweat as their presentation looms, here are our reasons why you should give it a go - and some top tips on how to pull it off with aplomb.

In any industry it pays to stand out for the right reasons. Speaking at events, taking part in panels or working groups and presenting seminars gets you noticed, there are no two ways about it. Not only will you build your profile, you 'll also build the profile of your business or employer, which will open up new opportunities. Public speaking events are also great places to meet new professional contacts and expand your network, and it could even open up opportunities for career advancement.

Public speaking also gives you the opportunity to share your ideas, knowledge and experience with your audience. The audience is there to learn from you, they are on your side so don 't be scared of them. This will give you confidence not just in giving the talk, but in future scenarios where you are required to give an impromptu speech or lead a group.

But how do you do this when your palms are sweaty, your stomach is churning and you can 't for the life of you remember the next thing you wanted to say?

Firstly, understand why that is happening to you. You are scared. You are out of your comfort zone with dozens of pairs of eyes trained on you. Back in our evolutionary days this was not a dissimilar scenario to being faced with a predator, so your body goes into 'fight or flight ' mode. All the blood rushes from your brain and stomach - hence the blankness and butterflies - and diverts to your arms and legs. Just knowing this will help you to feel calmer and face it down.

Next learn the 5 Ps of presenting:

  • Pace - Don 't talk too fast - people want to understand and digest what you have to say
  • Pause - Give your audience time to follow and read any slides
  • Power - speak up and with emotion. A monotonous drone is boring
  • Pronunciation - speak clearly and concisely
  • Pitch - Alter the pitch to make a point

Bear in mind that only a small proportion of what we say is conveyed by the words we use. Posture, eye contact and facial expression all have an influence on the way in which our words are interpreted.

Then, follow these seven stellar tips on how to get it right:

  1. Build a story - have a beginning, middle and end that flow
  2. Know your audience - so you pitch the content to the level of those attending
  3. Prepare for questions and don 't bluff, you can always ask the questioner to discuss with you further at the end of the seminar
  4. Dress appropriately - this will give you confidence
  5. Rehearse OUT LOUD, I know it never feels right but it pays dividends
  6. Take a friend/colleague to sit in the audience giving you a friendly face as a focal point
  7. Relax and enjoy - after all, you know your stuff, right?


Tags: iss114 | fbi | females in broadcast | jo hind | public speaking | Samantha Arlow
Contributing Author Samantha Arlow

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