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Public Speaking: conquering the fear that tongue-ties us
November 19, 2003

David Hancox

Whether you are an experienced public speaker or one who abhors the idea of standing up before an audience, this program on public speaking provided positive guidelines on how to gain confidence and improve your speaking style. The speaker, David Hancox, offered several practical concepts on how to prepare yourself to give a presentation. After a short warm-up, he presented the participants with an exercise that allowed everyone to experience speaking in front of a group.

According to Hancox, there are 10 main ways to prepare yourself for a good experience in front of an audience:

Use an icebreaker. From a joke to a simple exercise, this can help to warm up your audience.
Prepare in advance. It pays to prepare your talk or presentation early, then take a break, and walk away. This gives you a chance to really think about the topic and provides you with a sense of ownership of the speech.
Relax and tell your story. The best communicators are storytellers. Have a story to tell.
Don't fear your audience. According to Hancox, there are two types of people in every audience - those who you know and have an established relationship with; and those who you will never see again. The first group tends to not be overly critical of you, and the second group, well - who cares?
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Anticipate the questions you might receive. Be ready with an answer, and defer the unanticipated with a "I'll be happy to talk with you after the program" if a question may require additional information or time and continue with your talk.
Stay on the right topic. Make sure you define the parameters of your talk to fit the subject and your audience.
Use visual aids or props.
Don't dread the experience; work to create a successful mindset. If it seems overwhelming, Hancox suggested co-presenting with someone else to help deliver the message.
Be prepared for known and unknown hazards! Try to think through the worst case scenario (e.g., AV equipment failure) and have a back-up plan prepared.

photoOne of the communicators present at the program suggested that you may never get over the feeling of "butterflies" before giving a talk or presentation. The good news is that it may be part of what keeps you on edge and makes your message interesting. So, if it's your goal—conquer that fear…and try some public speaking!

Quotes and presentation slides used in the session.



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