Seven Habits of Highly
by Rebecca Hart
Jerry Seinfeld said that at a funeral, most people would rather be in the
coffin than giving the eulogy. Are you one of those people? Is it holding
back your career?
If so, here are seven tips to overcome your fears and excel in your next
public speaking opportunity.
- Think Like a Boy Scout
Don’t fail because you weren’t prepared. Practice may not make you perfect
(forget perfection!) but it will make you a whole lot better. Speaking effectively
requires practice...plan to spend six hours preparing for every hour of
your speech (6:1 ratio).
Know you’ll be most nervous at the beginning so memorize a three sentence
opening. Also know your closing by heart so you end persuasively.
- Arrive Early
Check out to the room where you'll be speaking as early as possible so you
can make sure your equipment works, as well as looking at lighting and seating
options and getting comfortable in the environment. Walk around the area
where you will be speaking, so your first time there isn’t for the presentation.
Shake hands with as many audience members as you can so you’ll have plenty
of fans in the audience!
- Bring on the Jitters
You're waiting for your presentation to start, when all of a sudden you
realize your mind is going blank...and your stomach is working overtime.
That little voice inside your head is saying…how did I get myself into
The key is making those jitters work in your favor and performing despite
the nervousness. Transform fear into courage by imagining all that adrenaline
giving you the winning edge you need to deliver an excellent talk.
If that doesn’t help, just remember: it usually gets easier every time.
- Establish Why You...Why Now...
Prepare a 150-word introduction and bring a copy with you (even if you’ve
already sent it to your contact ahead of time). Use the intro to establish
why you are the right person to address the group. NOTE: In our Brand
Ambassador sessions, attendees leave with a completed introduction.
- Connect Early and Often
Ask for comments or raised hands that initiate a positive response as quickly
as possible. The sooner you can get a positive response, the quicker your
nerves will fade away.
Don’t forget to tell YOUR story. People will forget many of your points
but they won’t forget your stories. That’s because stories engage both hemispheres
of the brain, and connect the head and the heart.
- Three Points of Eye Contact
When presenting to groups of more than 20 people, maintain three eye contact
points—neutral or friendly faces are best.
If you are sitting at a table with a small group of people, make sure you
share eye contact with everyone. Why? The longer your eye contact, the more
influence and self-esteem you are perceived to have.
- Finish Strong
Four key points to remember:
Conclude the Q-and-A period with a summary. Don’t let the presentation close
on a down note of: “Well, I guess we’re done if there are no more questions.”
- People are often really saying "What about me?" when they ask a question.
- Opinions may be based more on how you answer their question than on
what you say.
- When you call for questions, count to 10 before assuming no one will
- It’s OK to say “I don’t know.” If you’re asked a question you don’t
know the answer to, please write down the person’s name and question and
then follow-up with an answer.
Finish strong with a call to action that will leave your audience ready
Rebecca Hart, APR is principal consultant at Hart & Partners, a strategic
communications firm based in Jacksonville, FL. She is a past president of
the North Florida chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA),
and serves on the University of Florida’s PR Advisory Council. Visit www.hartandpartners.com
for additional information .
more articles in Presentations & Public Speaking
in The CEO Refresher Archives