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Confident public speaking is not about putting on an act, but there are many acting techniques that can help you stretch into the full and fearless parts of your inner inspiring speaker. The key to any great performance is about sharing you – just a fuller version of you unleashed on stage. Many would-be speakers worry that they don’t have the chutzpah to entertain an audience. Worry not! Utilize these six theatre techniques for public speaking and you can be bolder, more memorable and more fearless than you ever dreamed possible.
Both the actor and the public speaker have to learn how to manage their their stress and anxiety before a performance. . Many people are astonished in finding out that their diaphragm is a very effective anti-stress method. Public speaking and presentation anxiety go hand in hand for many people. Nightmares like forgetting lines, botching powerpoint slides, losing notes, or fumbling over words can wake some folks up in the middle of the night howling.
The truth is, being a fearless public speaker isn’t about getting rid of your fear, nor is it about suppressing it. It’s about transforming that fear into energy and excitement. You can greatly decrease your anxiety with some relaxation techniques or some simple respiration exercises.
Good actors and good speakers don't act: they don't pretend. Both of them have to offer their true self to the audience and to be authentic. Managing to be yourself in front of an audience is perceived as charisma and magnetism, what we usually call "presence". When you present, you need to become comfortable being in the spotlight. It means accepting your central role (and the exposure that comes with it) as a speaker. Some presenters are uncomfortable with that level of scrutiny, and you can tell. But public speaking is performance. If you don’t become comfortable on stage then you won’t be able to share your message to the world!
Body language is a crucial element of effective public speaking. But mastering body language is not about learning a list of rules about where to put your arms and feet at which moment. Body language power comes from within… and it starts with your attitude.Winston Churchill said “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” It’s no big surprise that how you carry yourself whilst public speaking makes a tremendous impact on your audience.
Learn how to use space. Try to decrease the distance between you and your listeners, for instance. And think about how your position in your “performance space” can be linked to your content. — Can your stage position be tied to the item you're talking about at the moment?
Is your voice fully expressive? It needs to be, if you’re going to convey the subtle meanings of the points you're making. Too many public speakers fail to realize the power and importance of not speaking at times. Allow the gravity and weight of what has been spoken to settle on your listeners. And for pity's sake PLEASE stop using the “story teller voice.” It’s false. You tell a story to 10,000 the same way you tell the story to your best friend. You don’t use some dramatic made up voice. It reeks of playing pretend.
Every actor knows the expression “Find your light.” It means that if you're in the dark on stage, step into the light source so you can be seen. Audiences find it hard to pay attention to actors they can’t see! Don’t PUSH. (Push is theatre term for over acting) When you push the work feels false and often self-observed.
The word charisma comes from the Greek word “gift”, befitting the notion that allure is something you’re born with, and can’t earn. Is charisma an intangible, magical aura that you either have or you don’t? Can you learn to “work a room” with a sly grin and a smile and being comfortable in your own skin? Charisma simply equals the confidence to be yourself. And I argue yes… charisma is something you can cultivate and use in your public speaking. Here’s how.
Focus too much of your attention on your content and you may as well be speaking to an empty room. Develop an awareness of how your audience is responding. Naturally, actors cultivate this attribute until it's a finely-tuned instrument. But public speakers can benefit from awakening this awareness.
A big part of what we do when we speak publicly is develop a relationship with our audience. A relationship based on trust, respect, information, and interaction! Sure a speech has mostly been defined as one person talking and other people listening. But it always takes two to tango… you know. You AND your audience have a part to play in this engagement.
And when you end... get everything in before the audience claps. Then get off the stage. Standing around on the stage (unless you invite them to share the stage with you afterwards) breaks the theatrical experience. And never never NEVER turn your back to the audience unless it’s intentional to make a point or convey an emotion. When you need to move upstage (that’s toward the back of the stage, away from the audience) you do it backwards while speaking to the audience.
It’s time to rip up the rule book and forget what you think you know about the perils of public speaking.
Whatever the occasion, subject or situation, and with the right advice, anyone can be an entertaining, interesting and inspiring public speaker – you just need to know how. Using my expert tips, tricks, tools and techniques you’ll quickly develop the six simple qualities necessary to banish your nerves, feel relaxed, connect with your audience and really wow them.
Whether you want to overcome your fears and take that first step, or if you’ve already had some practice and want to polish your performance, Sarah will help you build your confidence to deliver your next talk naturally and with style and sophistication.
Anyone can speak in public – even you. Here’s how to do it brilliantly.
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