I’m delighted to feature Dr. Gary Genard on the blog. The Genard Method is a Boston, Massachusetts-based public speaking training organisation. Gary, its founder, is an actor and speech coach who uses performance-based techniques to help professionals of all types become more dynamic speakers. He also has a specialty in helping people overcome fear of public speaking and stage fright. The Genard training method has evolved from over thirty-five years of experience.
Some of the topics we discuss during the interview include:
- Preparing for a speech
- Keeping the audience engaged
- Building confidence as a speaker
How did you first get involved in public speaking?
I’m a professional actor who attained a Ph.D. in theatre in 1999. Following a stint of teaching at university full-time, I decided to bring the techniques of the theatre to speakers in business and the professions who can benefit from this type of training.
As a seasoned speaker how do you typically prepare for a speech?
The make-up of the audience is always the starting point. From there, I try to understand what the audience is looking for and then craft a purpose that meets that need. The time I spend preparing varies widely according to the speaking situation and also how much I need to learn certain aspects of the material.
Check out the ultimate guide to speech preparation here.
What techniques do you use to maintain people’s attention?
Once I have decided on the content of a talk, I next consider how to keep the audience engaged. Engagement and entertainment are as important to a successful talk as informing or persuading an audience, for those outcomes can’t take place without sufficient engagement on the part of listeners.
Find out more about connecting with an audience here.
What tips do you advise for dealing with stage fright, killing nerves and building confidence?
Fear of public speaking is a form of social anxiety that can be difficult to deal with because it is an inappropriate response. The activation we experience (the “fight or flight response”) is helpful and can even be life-saving in dangerous situations. But there is no danger in the public speaking environment.
Can you share a public speaking tip that has added value in your previous speeches?
Understanding one’s audience and its needs is the skill all of us need to constantly improve. The more we grasp our listeners’ intentions and motivations, the more we will be able to craft presentations that speak to those needs.
Pay attention to your conclusion. Too many people don’t include a strong conclusion, or don’t spend enough time and attention on it. Your conclusion is your last chance to make what you’ve been saying in your presentation continue to resonate with listeners.
Learn about 5 powerful ways to close your speech here.
Any final words of advice to aspiring speakers?
Learning from our presentations is a life-long task. The sum total of what you learn from speaking is part of who you are. Speak as often as you can. The more comfortable you are in front of a roomful of people, the more you’ll be able to establish rapport and actually reach listeners. Best of luck!
Catch-up with some of the other posts in the ‘Expert Interviews’ series here.