I have learned a great amount about public speaking and presentations from the articles of my fellow bloggers. I’ve created the ‘Blog Profile’ series as a way of saying thanks.
Blog Profile: Speaking About Presenting
Olivia Mitchell’s website is full of presentation tips that can help you to prepare for your next public speaking engagement. Olivia is a presentation trainer based in New Zealand, and she has over 10 years experience. Below is a selection of my favourite posts.
The 3 Causes of Public Speaking Fear
This post digs into the science behind public speaking fear. Olivia outlines a model which can help you to understand your fear of public speaking and work out the best way to reduce it. The old brain, mid brain, new brain theory is certainly a very interesting way at looking at fear. The first type of nervousness comes from the old brain.
You may suffer from nervousness less as you gain more experience presenting. That’s because your old brain has gradually realised that this public speaking thing is possibly not that life-threatening. So desensitise yourself – take every opportunity to speak in front of a group.
Olivia uses a demonstration exercise to highlight another type of nervousness, from mid-brain. Finally she offers an explanation of the conscious thinking new brain.
Most of us have patterns of thinking that contribute to our nervousness.You can reduce your nervousness by exploring your patterns of thinking. This is part of the basis of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
As a Toastmaster for the past year I’ve found that nervousness before a speech never completely goes away. It can be controlled, but not eliminated. This post provides good analysis of stage fear from a technical perspective.
How to Project Your Voice
This post, as the name suggests, is all about the speaking voice. The post is the result of a reader query on voice projection and correct articulation of words. Olivia is on hand to offer some great advice. She identifies 3 possible reasons for any issues with voice projection:
1. You don’t know how to use your voice effectively
2. Nervousness is subduing you, you’re speaking too quietly
3. You’re not looking at the people you’re speaking to
On the first point, Olivia offers a practical suggestion:
Test this out in a large room with an honest, compassionate and playful friend. Stand at opposite ends of the room. Focus on your friend – can you make yourself heard across the room? Now have a play with your voice. Experiment.
Olivia also offers her advice on eye contact, and highlights its importance.
You can test this out by gathering together a range of friends or colleagues. Experiment with eye connection. Then ask them to tell you whether it was uncomfortable for them.
Voice projection is such an important part of public speaking. This blog post tackles three of the biggest hurdles: volume, nerves and eye contact.
7 Ways to Keep Audience Attention
This post is also based on a reader query, this time about keeping the audience’s attention. In response to the query Olivia offers sevens guidelines:
- Talk about something your audience is interested in
- Tell them why they should listen
- Don’t make it too easy or too hard
- Change grabs attention
- Tell stories
- Have frequent breaks
- Keep it short