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Tricks or treats of public speaking

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Do you have ghosts and zombies keeping you shackled to a ball and chain of fear? Like Jerry Seinfeld has mentioned, would you rather be in the coffin than delivering a eulogy? Are you ready to unshackle your life of fear and shed yourself of the deadbeat thoughts restricting you from achieving your dreams?

It’s no trick. You can treat yourself to a life of feeling comfortable and being confident when speaking in public. Shedding your fear of public speaking does not happen immediately; therefore, be aware of overnight tricks. Here are three of many treats to help you begin to unshackle your fear:

  1. A common trick to reduce public speaking fears is to look at the wall in the back of the room or to focus your eyes on the foreheads of the audience members. Yet, when you are conversing with your friends, do you stare into the distance? No. You would, very naturally, make eye contact with your friend(s) for a few seconds, perhaps glance away for a moment or so, and then make eye contact again. That’s what we all do when we are in a comfortable situation.

    Contrary to a common misperception, you should make eye contact with your audience. First, when you are looking at the back of the wall, you see the entire group. That can be intimidating. Peripherally, you will see all the eyes “staring” back at you. Second, if you are looking at the back wall, you are not engaging your audience, which can cause discomfort with your audience and you. Third and most importantly, when you make eye contact with individuals in an audience, you are speaking to only one person at a time. No matter if the size of your audience is 10, 50, 100, 500 or more, you are speaking to and conversing with one individual at a time—the same as when you converse with your friends.

  2. Another familiar trick to reduce fear is to imagine your audience in their underwear or as naked. Well, how would you like to have you audience look at you as if you are in underwear and start making fun at you. There is illogical logic to this trick; however, you should visualize your audience as well dressed, attentive, and on the edge of their seats, ready to give you a standing ovation. Think positively about your audience and they will be positive about your presentation.
  3. Another trick often used is to begin your speech with a joke to lighten up their audience. If you were to tell a joke, it should be related specifically to the topic of your presentation; yet, many speakers will tell a joke which is not even related to the topic at hand. Second, what happens if you mess up the punch line? Of course, your entire presentation will be messed up.

    Rather than telling a joke which may flop, begin with a humorous story about yourself. Surely, you’ve gone through a situation in your life which at the time may have been horrible, yet today you can laugh at it. Simply be sure that the story relates to your topic of discussion.

Treat yourself to a lifetime of confidence by joining Toastmasters, a worldwide organization dedicated to assisting individuals to develop their communications and leadership skills. As a member, Toastmasters can rebuild your confidence and a belief in yourselves by slowly, yet surely, removing those creepy, crawly thoughts in your subconscious mind.

Unshackle your life of ghosts, goblins, and creepy, crawly thoughts holding you back. Visit 3 to 4 Toastmasters clubs in your area and choose one to join. All you need to do is to go to www.toastmasters.org, click on Find, and when the new page is displayed, enter your zip code to display the clubs in your area. There is absolutely no trick to joining Toastmasters. Just do it.

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