Imagine them all in their underwear: conquering your fear of public speaking

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 16:32

By Hamish Williams

Few of us claim to be gifted public speakers and in fact many of us find the experience so terrifying we avoid podiums and lecterns at all costs. While it may seem that some people have an innate ability to charm a room full of strangers, the truth is good public speakers are just much better prepared.

As part of the Advanced Presentation Skills short course, AIM’s public speaking guru, Sarah Yip teaches the skills required to master your nerves and deliver a message with confidence. Sarah says there are some very specific techniques that can give anyone the ability to deliver a clear and persuasive message to a room full of people.

“As a former wallflower, I understand the anxiety that many people feel but with some planning, anyone can deliver a presentation in a professional and engaging way.”

Remember the good times

“To eliminate anxiety we ask people to remember a time when they demonstrated capability at public speaking and not focus on the times when they have felt anxious. If not specifically a presentation then remembering a similar situation when they have communicated confidently and capably will also serve the purpose.”

Focus on the why, not the what

“While practice certainly helps to ensure things run smoothly, being prepared doesn’t mean memorising the entire presentation word for word as we then lose sight of why we are delivering the presentation. People can focus on the “what” of the presentation which is the content itself but in order to be effective we need to focus on the “why” which is about what we want to achieve as an outcome of the presentation.

Preparation reduces perspiration

“At the same time, not knowing the material you are delivering is obviously just as bad as being over prepared so spending time familiarising yourself with the content is crucial.This will also enable you to answer questions as they arise but if you are unable to answer a question, asking other attendees if they know the answer is a useful tactic.”

First impressions count

“While a well-structured presentation is important, engaging the audience at the beginning is crucial. As we aren’t telling a joke, we need to start with the punchline first, which is the reason for the presentation and we need to do this in the first 30 seconds or the audience will lose interest and be much less engaged.”

AIM’s Advanced Presentation Skills short course applies the principles of persuasion and connection to developing and delivering an influential presentation. Participants will learn vital skills in building structured yet engaging presentations that convey ideas and connect with a range of audiences.