Confident Public Speaking – How to Overcome Presentation Fear

Public speaking is a difficult task and most of the times it gives the public speaker butterflies in the stomach during the speech. It can also be a common source of stress for most people who would rather be part of the audience than be the one standing on stage. Most of us would like to avoid being in such situation all along. However there are many of us who need to speak in public on a regular basis because it is part of their job and they need to get certain tasks done. The speech does not have to be perfect, what is important is you need to get your point across your audience.

- It is acceptable to be nervous just before your speech. Even the experienced speakers get nervous when they have to make a speech. However instead of being too nervousness, you may prefer to divert energy and excitement into something that can be used to improve the way of delivering your speech.

- Prepare to know what you mean. You can try getting up and walking as a practice out loud. Do not focus on how you are going to deliver the speech. The speech will be much better if you do not to have put anything in writing or memorized word for word. It is best to know more about the subject of your speech so you can always do ad-libs if you miss a line or two.

- Practice does not mean that you’ll get things perfectly done; however it will somehow familiarize you on the speech or subject that you are about to discuss. You may want to try speaking to an audience, small groups are best way to test your skills. Dale Carnegie course would be a good way to sharpen your public speaking skills.

- Breathing exercises even for thirty seconds or more would help you relax before you give your speech. Slowly and deeply breathe through your nose; and as you do the breathing exercise, you need to remind yourself to relax.

- As a public speaker, you need to concentrate on how you can keep your audience’s attention from you. More often than not, the stage fright occurs when you start being too conscious on how we’re doing as a speaker. If you pay too much attention to the way you are delivering your speech more than what you are saying; most likely stage fright would attack you.

- Before you set your foot on the stage, it is best to meet and greet some of the people in your audience before the presentation. If it is possible for you to do it, then learn a little from your audience. Then look into the eyes of your audience as if you were speaking to one person at a time. Maintain eye contact in the entire duration of your speech.

- Remember to smile, and maintain proper body posture. If you keep your head up high and you never fail to smile at your audience; then no one from your audience would know that you are about to wet your pants because of nervousness. They would not have any idea that your heart is pounding out of your chest, your hands are both sweaty. No one would know that you already feel like you are about to lose consciousness because of the stage fright that you feel that moment. Keep your focus and don’t forget to smile.

It is very important to prepare yourself in every public speaking engagement that you are invited. Being a public speaker is not an inherit talent, but it is a skill that needs to be honed in order to become a better public speaker.

5 Key Elements of Successful and Efficient Conference Presenters

  • Be a slave to rehearsals… – no doubt you’ve probably heard it before, but even if you’re a seasoned veteran rehearsing is essential to a successful and effective web conference. Ideally your test run should come as close to the real thing as possible (i.e. be held the same room you will be presenting in, using the same equipment, even similar hand movements and expressions) to ensure you are able to iron out any possible unforeseen issues. While you cannot predict every unforeseen event, rehearsing dramatically increases efficiency; and in the event a glitch arises, don’t stress – it happens to everyone sooner or later – just keep calm, and carry on to the best of your ability. Maybe even keep a couple jokes on standby that you can use in the event your computer crashes, or another technical error surfaces.
  • …but don’t be a slave to slides – sure, slides can be very informative and helpful in almost any conference, but the key is moderation. Reading verbatim from every slide you present is boring and loses the interest and attention of your audience. Stick to bullet points on slides, and use them as a springboard to engage in active conversation and collaboration.
  • Put your own spin on it – while rehearsing, try and find a conversational/presentation style that you feel comfortable with. This will help put your audience at ease as they will feel more confident about what you are presenting than they would if you were reading directly off your slides and sounding like a robot. Helpful hint: the more familiar you are with the topic or material you are presenting, the easier this will be.
  • Enjoy it! – when you have fun with your presentation it shows, and if you’re passionate about whatever it is you are presenting, chances are your audience will become just as excited about it. Keep your energy high by going on a short, brisk walk or getting some fresh air just before presenting. And most importantly, SMILE! Even if you are only conducting an audio conference, people might not be able to see it, but they certainly can hear it in your voice.
  • Avoid ‘ums’ and ‘uhs’ – this can be difficult for many of us, but these verbal tics act as instantaneous cues for an audience to tune you out and are the bane of all presenters. Whether it’s due to nerves, fear, a lack of product or service knowledge or confidence, rehearsing helps eliminate them – or at least keep them to an absolute minimum. Another helpful hint: if you are recording your conference and happen to have a case of the ‘ums and uhs,’ see if they can edit them out of your recording.

Focus On Core Concerns When Negotiating

I’ve recently been reading “Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate” by Roger Fisher, coauthor of the bestselling “Getting To Yes” and Daniel Shapiro, associate director , Harvard Negotiation Project. It is an interesting book with some valuable explanations of how we can channel emotions by respecting five concerns which enable negotiators to reach mutually beneficial results.

The book is based on the premise that we negotiate daily and we have emotions all the time. Since we cannot eliminate emotions, “Beyond Reason” offers a strategy to generate positive emotions and to deal with negative ones. The book builds upon “Getting to Yes” which was coauthored by Fisher and is considered a foundation for interest-based negotiation, a process that suggests that negotiators obtain the best results by understanding each other’s interests and working together to produce an agreement that will meet those interests as best they can.

Emotions will have an impact on negotiations, whether we acknowledge them or not. Rather than dealing with each and every emotion that we have, and that our opponents are feeling, “Beyond Reason” presents a strategy where you turn your attention to what generates these emotions. According to the authors, “Core concerns are human wants that are important to almost everyone in virtually every negotiation. They are often unspoken but are no less real than our tangible interests. Even experienced negotiators are often unaware of the many ways in which these concerns motivate their decisions.”

The five core concerns that stimulate many emotions during negotiations are appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status, and role. By dealing effectively with these concerns, you can stimulate positive emotions. The five concerns are not distinct from one another, but merge together with each contributing toward the stimulation of emotions. Therefore, each concern must be met to the appropriate extent, which will be different in each negotiation. These concerns can be used to understand the emotional experience of each party as well as a lever to stimulate positive emotions in parties. Lets briefly look at each concern, emotions that arise from each concern, and what people are prone to do once those emotions arise.

Appreciation

When a person is appreciated, resulting emotions can be enthusiastic, affectionate, cheerful, and caring. A person feeling these emotions will often be prone to cooperate more. A person who is unappreciated will often feel angry and disgusted. These emotions often lead to a person being prone to react negatively and contrary to desired interests.

Affiliation

When a person is treated as a colleague they tend to feel more amused, compassionate and ecstatic. These emotions tend to make a person more prone to work together. The person who is treated as an adversary is more apt to feel resentful or irritated. This person will be more prone to go it alone rather than work together.

Autonomy

When a person’s freedom to decide is acknowledged, emotions such as being proud, happy, and accomplished are evoked. These emotions tend to make a person prone to being creative. On the other hand, when autonomy is impinged, the emotions of guilt, shame, and remorse often arise, leading to a person thinking more rigidly.

Status

When a person’s status is recognized, they will often feel more calm, relieved, and relaxed. This tends to make a person more prone to be trustworthy. When a person’s status is put down they will feel humiliated and embarrassed. People with these feelings often are more prone to act deceptively and be seen as untrustworthy. (Note that they are seen as untrustworthy, not necessarily actually untrustworthy.)

Role

When a person’s role is fulfilling and includes activities that illustrate and convince the person that they make a difference, the feelings of hope arise. Hopeful people tend to be prone more toward trustworthiness similar to the above description related to status. When a person’s role is trivialized and restricted they may feel envious, jealous, or become apathetic. As with the description of status, these feelings tend to make a person more prone to act in the eyes of their opposition deceptively and be seen as untrustworthy.

Conclusion

Negotiators often assume that the best way to negotiate is purely rational. Hostile emotions easily escalate and cause problems. However, according to Jamil Mahuad, Former President of Ecuador, emotions can be helpful. In 1998, a fifty-year boundary dispute between Ecuador and Peru ended through the successful negotiation between Jamil Mahuad, president of Ecuador (1998-2000), and Alberto Fujimori, president of Peru (1990-2000). President Mahuad took two negotiation courses at Harvard with Fisher and a seminar with both Fisher and Shapiro regarding the core concerns outlined above. He contributed to “Beyond Reason” by sharing his creative use of the five concerns when negotiating to resolve the Peru-Ecuador border dispute. According to Mahuad, he took the initiative and acted upon each of the core concerns – appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status, and role when going into the negotiations with President Fujimori. Doing this enabled him to establish good rapport, a strong working relationship, and a stable agreement.

During your next negotiation, determine how you can meet these core concerns in others as well as in yourself. Express appreciation. Build a sense of affiliation. Respect each person’s autonomy and status. Help shape roles to be fulfilling. According to Fisher and Shapiro, doing this will turn a negotiation from a stressful, worrisome interaction into a side-by-side dialogue where each of you listens, learns, and respects the other. This undoubtedly will improve your outcome. If these concerns can help the presidents of two countries resolve a fifty-year dispute, they just might help you negotiate successfully as well.