The ABC’s of Q & A Sessions in Public Speaking

During presentations, it is the question and answer part that serves as a good occasion to know how much the audience understood or how much they did not understand from all of that speaking you did. It is also the best opportunity to be able to show your sense of humor, if you have one. Also, the question and answer portion is a good means to get your audience to participate.

The most used way, if not the most boring one, to open up the question and answer portion is: are there any questions? Or, “Now let’s take in questions.”
To make the presentation more fun for them as well as for you, as the presenter, to appear you are enjoying your time and are also having fun, why don’t you try saying this as a way to open up the session on question and answer: “The last presentation I had, the first question I received was, `Aren’t you tired yet?’ and `Do you have the time?'”

In order for you to continually captivate your audience, you should as much as possible try to do something different from the regular presentations people do. It is also a good idea if you prepare for the question and answer part. Try to spend time thinking of the possible questions some people in your audience may ask after your presentation. Now that you have a fairly good idea, create some good natured humor to go along with your answers. Use these before you provide the answer that is serious and real.

The audience will think best of you if you provide them with a witty remark that in their opinion seems spontaneous and does not appear rehearsed, even if it is.

But what if no one dares ask the first question? This problem will be automatically solved by planting – this time – rehearsed questions on some members of the audience.
What you could do is to select some people from the audience and ask them ever so politely to assist you with your post-presentation session. You may ask them as you are researching for the profile of the audience you will be presenting to or while you are warming up to them prior to the program. If in case they agree to being your accomplice, request that they raise their hand when you open up the session on question and answer. This is the time that they will be asking you that pseudo-question.

The question you will ask them to ask serves two purposes: to break the ice through humor and encourage others to ask their own serious questions, or that they should be amused enough to stay still and listen until the end of your presentation.

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An effective style to use in public speaking: audience participation

An effective public speaker should be able to utilize devices that will be able to capture the attention of the audience. One effective means for them to give you that much needed interest is this: get them to go on stage. Make them participate. When someone is on stage and he or she happens to be a member of the audience, the rest will almost always stay attentive. Why? Because they would like to see what you will be doing to one of them. Also, because they are thinking they could be up there themselves and so to save their precious egos from embarrassment they at least need to know what is going on.

No matter how good or excellent you are as a presenter or as a public speaker, nothing beats the excitement of getting someone to be on stage who really should not be there in the first place. What is going through their minds at that moment when you pull an unsuspecting someone from their complacency is that, “Oh my god, what if the speaker selects me to go up there next? What am I going to do?” Then later, “I need to pay attention to this.” A little bit later as you go through your presentation, the audience will then most probably think, “What point is he/she making?” And then as you take your point across, the audience will then get to think, “Now I get it.” Because you made them pay attention, you have forced them to listen and respond to your statement in the privacy of their minds.

However, there are those extremely shy and very sensitive members of the audience who might withdraw from going through the rest of your presentation if they hear you will be calling on them up on the stage. The objective is to gain an audience and not to lose any of them.
Make it clear prior to your asking someone to come up on stage with you that you are asking for a volunteer and that no one will be forced if they do not want to. Notice that if the majority of your audience are shy, once you finally get someone to be on stage, all of them will almost always heave a sigh of relief that you would actually feel a breeze pass you by, really.

Another way to get the audience to participate as well as pay attention is by giving them due recognition. Try to acknowledge a single member of the audience for a specific achievement or a moment of a good performance, or also acknowledge a group of the audience.

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Techniques for Better Public Speaking

To ensure triumphant communication within a group, it is essential to enhance your communication skills. Speaking in front of an audience can be fun only if you are well prepared. Here are some techniques that can help you improve your public speaking skills.

• Make eye contact. It signifies your interest and desire to be honest and credible.

• Posture and gesture are also effective ways to communicate your message.

• Dress Appropriately. How you look is also important. Your appearance should convey a message for dignity and respect.

• Be conscious of other people’s space.

• Keep your message understandable and straightforward. Remember, “Less is more.” Clarity is important because it affects all areas of your message. Avoid using jargons. Use words that your audience can understand.

Why “Less is more”? First and obvious, is to avoid information overload. Speaking involves great concentration. If you provide too much information, chances are your audience will not listen to you anymore.
Second, clarity and pausing allows your audience to understand and acknowledge what you are saying.

• Be prepared. Remember the 6 W’s:
Who? – Determining your audience’s age, gender and interest are among the ways you can classify them.

What? – What topic would you like to discuss? Usually, when you get an invitation to speak in public, follow their theme and purpose.

How? – How can you communicate your message? Language and non-verbal cues are important. Proper choice of words helps your audiences understand you better.

When? – Obtain a logical timing of your discussion. Learn how to pause when necessary.

Where? – If you have time, visit the area where you will conduct your speech. Determine the best seating arrangement according to the type of your audience. You also need to consider the temperature, space and lighting conditions of the area. Visiting the area also helps you determine where to place your visual aid.

Why? – Convey the advantage and purpose the will gain if they will listen to you. Preparing a list objectives can help you narrow down the key points you need to emphasize.

• Do not overwhelm your audience with numbers and statistics. You can put this information in handouts for easy reference in the future.

• Use visual aids to support your message.

• Establish dialogue and rapport. Allow your audience to participate in the discussion. You can also create rapport by call your audience by their names.

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Relax your way to public speaking

Believe it or not, fear of death is actually second to the one greatest fear that the majority of humanity seems tensely afraid of: fear of speaking in public.
If fear is all that you are thinking, then forget about that presentation that could earn your company and you the necessary sales. Presentation and public speaking is one of the most efficient as well as effective manner in making your products and services known. Why deny your product or service the chance to be heard? If you are still afraid, try your very best to focus on the various positive after effects of making that presentation. Create in your mind the numerous clients, customers and contact persons you might not get to see or be involved with if you let that unnecessary and irrelevant anxiety take hold of you. Your presentation may only take thirty minutes but the long term effects of your pitch or presentation might go a long way.

If speaking anxiety is still gripping you, try to do the following exercises to help your body relax and warm up to whatever it is you plan to do in your presentation. Turn that negative energy into a positive one and see who benefits best from it.

Warm up your body

Are you wearing high heeled shoes now? If you are, please take them off now. Then go and stand up. Try to stand on only one leg. Then shake the leg that is off the floor. Switch legs and do the same thing again. What you are doing is taking the negative energy of anxiety towards the floor and out of your body. Though this may appear and sound so out of this world, it actually works. For your information, actors use this as a warm-up exercise prior to attacking any scene.

Hold out your hands, shake them, fast. Put your hands over your head and bring them to your sides. Repeat the same process. Doing this continually will take the tension off your hands and arms so any movements you make with them during your presentation gets to appear natural.

Ease the tension present in the muscles of your face. In order to do this what you could do is chew in a manner that is exaggerated.
These exercises are done for the purpose of warming any part of your body that is edgy, uptight or taut from being too nervous thinking about how you will do in your presentation. Do not think too much though as it only adds unnecessary stress. Relax and your audience will relax along with you.

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Perhaps, there is no effective way to deal with nervousness but to deal with it squarely. Everyone who’s in the business of public speaking understands the feeling of standing in front of the crowd and delivering your speech.

There has been no more dreadful experience as compared to speaking in front of a huge crowd. In fact, in more than 1,000 people surveyed in a certain study, they would rather jokingly prefer to die instead of participating in a public speaking engagement.

This provides evidence that more than 86% of people object to the idea of delivering speeches and conducting talks, which in turn exposes themselves to possible ridicule should mistakes arise.

Symptoms of Stage Fright

Let’s face it; nobody is perfect. Famous orators, statesmen, leaders of nations, and even the most well-read scholars become fidgety before and during speeches. This very same fact puts you on an equal level with them and confirms its normality.

Despite these facts, people sometimes find it difficult to handle such situations and end up ruining such an important event. Among the symptoms of the above conditions are the following:

Excessive perspiration (sweat)
Unexplained nervousness
Sudden drop in body temperature
Abrupt onset of sore throat
Dry lips and mouth
Skin starts to look pale
Trembling knees, lips and voice
Increased palpitations
Nauseating feeling
Irregular breathing pattern

Overpowering Stage Fright

Before devising plans to minimize the effects of social phobia, it is best to identify the source of nervousness, why it occurs and how you could possibly lessen, if not ultimately abate such physical anxiety.

Just as experts in the field suffer from such feelings, ordinary people need not be overly concerned that they are alone. The truth is, such physical trepidity is a fact of life.

Swart, Margolis, and Den Boer, three authorities in public speaking, articulated on their views about speech and oration and the reason for the characterized physiological responses of people undergoing such processes.

They commented on the truth that people expecting humiliation and fear of public inspection and examination become overly saturating to the point where one is no longer able to deliver a quality talk.

Perchance, as long as you are alive and you are able to respond to the many things happening in your environment, the feeling of anxiety, nervousness, and fear arising from such a situation prevails.

Tips for Overcoming Stage Fright

Below are tips on how to get better with the dangers of public speaking. They are not meant to take away the feeling of panic during your speech but will, in a way, help you manage the stress associated with the situation.

You don’t have to follow all the recommendations listed below but choosing one or two or a combination of any of the ones which you think will work best for you is one roadmap to making your speech as perfect as you want it to be.

Don’t let the situation control you. Use that nerve to your advantage and walk with confidence with your speech as your effective tool in controlling others with your convincing remarks.

Take a Deep Breath – relax and focus on your breathing. This will ease up your stressed muscles and will help you concentrate on your speech.

Resist Intimidation – Forget speaking in front of people who are smarter than you. A university study shows that more often than not, more than 80% of your audience at a time does not have a complete background on your topic. This gives you a leading edge and puts you on a higher level of intellectual advantage.

Be Prepared – Nothing beats a well-prepared speech plan. Get enough practice and repeat it as many times as you can.

Ward Off Physical Distractions – Eliminate details which can cause confusion and distract you from your main business. Uncomfortable clothing and accessories that are irritating to the skin causes skin rashes. Wear light clothing or something which you are comfortable with.

Establish Eye Contact – Making eye to eye contact with your audience is the best way to deliver sincere and convincing oral discourse. It allows your audience to keep their attention on you and concentrate on what you have to say.

Choose the Right Food at the Right Time – Eat at least 3 hours before your actual speech. Food taken long enough before you do your talk perks your body up and provides you with the necessary energy to carry on the task of speaking.

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A Key Element in Public Speaking: Timing Pauses

Timing is essential when speaking in public. The cliché: It is not what you say but more on how you say it, applies so much to public speaking.

Where you put your pauses during your presentation is one of the important aspects of maintaining an audience that is free from drowsing off. Couple this with humor and you are definitely on a roll.

Timing is the element involved during reactions that are spontaneous especially on developments during your delivery that are unexpectedly expected.

Do not forget, though, that when you expect any laughter to burst any time soon, avoid speaking as your voice and whatever it is that you are saying will most probably be drowned out by the noise of the audience.

Make sure to remember that laughter is extremely difficult to get and so very much easy to discourage. Try as much as possible to maintain eye contact with the audience for a little time longer when you deliver that punch line.

The audience size could also affect the way you use your timing. When the audience is small, the presentation you have will most probably be delivered in a lesser time compared to if you have a large audience. The reaction of a large audience will get to be a little longer and not as quick as if the audience is small. You also have to wait until the seemingly ripple effect of your punch line gets to that audience in the back row.

Believe it or not, putting that much needed silence in your presentation is one of the hallmarks of a skilled and good presenter. No public speaker should jabber constantly away in the hopes of keeping an audience glued to anything it is you have to say. Ironically, this is one effective way to keep their focus off you. The use of silence adds that much needed polish in your presentation making you appear as a confident expert.

Short pauses are effective to use in order for you to separate your thoughts. These pauses last from half a second to two. You do not have to literally count though, just keep in mind to slow down. This gives the audience a chance to absorb all of what it is you are getting across. It also helps if you change the inflection in your voice during the end of a thought as this could also signal to the audience that another thought is coming their way. Pauses are also an effective means if you want to highlight something. Put it before any word or thought you want the audience to focus on, they will most definitely get that.

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How to Have Fun With Speeches

While most people consider speaking in public worse than a death sentence, it does not have to be so. In fact, public speaking can be a fun and fruitful endeavor in the hands of a speaker with the right mindset.

And the first agenda when it comes to public speaking is to approach it in terms of having fun.

How can you ever have fun speaking to a large audience hanging on to your every word and gesture, you say? The answers are simple.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Choose a subject near and dear to your heart. There is no better supplier of knowledge than experience. Your audience knows when you just read off a book and when you’re speaking from having been there yourself.

Frankly speaking, unless you speak with emotional involvement with the subject, you cannot endear yourself to your audience. The audience looks for it, wants to know that whatever they are learning from you is worth their time and effort to listen to.

You want to be earnest, enthusiastic, excited, and persuasive. No other technique does this faster than being personally involved.

2. Capture the feelings you had about the topic. Again, your feelings are the key to a convincing speech and is the ability to project the feelings you had of the subject across the whole audience. Some may not agree with you and some may have felt you could have said it another way. But, none of them will forget you.

Speaking to the public monotonously and indifferently creates a sense of objectivity not appreciated by the audience. The stage is not the time to become dispassionate. Imagine the reason why we patronize movies and theater so much. It is partly because we want to see depth of emotion expressed fully.

As human beings, we need to see humanity in others.

3. Speak and act sincerely. You must approach the speech like a man going to have a good time, not like a man heading for a hanging. No matter what happens, you must have the will to survive with a sense of humor. In this tip, one must find a way to appreciate the situation he is in, and then find a way to turn the tables to his advantage.

The ability to float right-side up when you are down is a great test of personal character more than anything. To act with sincerity in all that you do will permeate his being and will become most noticeable with the audience.

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Audiences Are Your Friend

For the rank amateur to the ignorant professional, audiences create the same effect no matter how small they are to a speaker. Fear and anxiety.

From a single person to a crowd as big as the fans in the Super Bowl, speaking in front of a serious listening audience is the true test and baptism of fire.

Despite this, audiences are predictable. Audiences listen to you because they want to learn something from the speaker.

Following this logic, the speaker would do well to follow the strategy of making it informative as well as interesting to listeners to see your speech through till the end.

Here are some tips on how you can have the audience listen in rapt attention.

1. Speak according to the listeners’ interests. It is always a good idea to find out what the crowd you are speaking to is interested in. For example, if you have more teenagers in the crowd, you don’t really want to talk about your subject in a way that bores them, like good education. Other aspects to consider would be the local culture, age, sports, religious inclinations, etc. Talk about what’s important to them, something they can easily relate to without a stretch of imagination.

2. Praise the audience. Audiences are human too, and each and every one of them has a need to be acknowledged as much as you want to be acknowledged for speaking well in front of them. There is only one requirement for this maxim, that your praise be one hundred percent sincere. Anything less and you’ll have resentment in your hands.

3. Connect with the audience. Find a common thread that makes the audience relate to you, and you’ll find that the speech will come through really well. Finding a common thread humanizes you and the speech. It makes them want to listen to you because it may in some way be of great benefit to them.

4. Have the audience participate. Get somebody to come onstage and participate in a demonstration. Ask questions of the audience. Get feedback. Encourage them to walk up to the microphone and give you a piece of their mind. The point is to involve the audience, once more, making it more real to them. Taking them along with you in your experience.

5. Less you, more them. Play yourself down. Nobody, especially an audience, likes to be lectured to. This will cause resentment that will last a long time. Never feel that you are above them. The better way to think about your audience would be that you care about their welfare. Think of yourself as their best friend, and more often than not, this will hold you in good stead.

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10 Effective Habits of Public Speakers

A promising spokesperson often encounters risk before they arrive to the right thing. However, top speakers strive for excellence toward their goals. This article provides you with the effective habits a of successful speaker.

• Be determined in your pursuit to be an outstanding spokesperson. Show excellence through your experiences, study, and how you tailor your material to match your audience.

• Be patient in your goal to succeed. Persistence is a must. There is no such thing as overnight success in public speaking. Attend training about effective speaking; or ask someone who has mastered the art of public speaking.

• Develop a passion for your topic. Your audience will not care to listen to you if you show less interest in your topic. Jot down the topics that you love. Then, choose two or three that you can expound.

• Be sincere and sensitive towards your audience. Share some of your unfavorable experiences involving your topic. This way your audience perceives you as a real person and they can relate to your subject.

• Relate with your audience promptly. Avoid offensive remarks or jokes. State a funny story that is applicable to your subject; cite a quotation or an anecdote to keep their attention. Remember that you only have half a minute to connect to your audience. Use it wisely.

• Prepare adequately. Research your topic. Do not throw away old materials that you have used. Organize material logically. Use supporting metaphors or analogies to solidify the message you want to convey.

• Reinforce your key points with stories that people relate to. Be a proficient storyteller.

• Communicate in ways that will help people learn. In a recent study, 80% of people learn by visual stimulation and only 20% actually learn by listening to the lecture. So do not underestimate the use of visual props and visual aids. Find other ways or tools that can help you achieve 100% of your audience’s attention.

• Practice. Memorizing your speech is not enough. Try to practice in front of a mirror or with a friend. Their feedbacks can help you improve the way you deliver your message.

• Possess a genuine appreciation in what you do. Remember that not all people have the chance and the courage to speak in front of a large crowd. It is a privilege that is coupled with your responsibility to entertain, educate and persuade your audience. Public speaking is an art that requires a tremendous amount of skill.

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Public Speaking Worries and How to Abate Them

Several people despise the idea of having to verbally elaborate anything in front of an audience. Research has shown that the anxiety of public speaking stems from the following reasons:

1. The display of signs of anxiety such as shaking or trembling.

Surely, not a lot of people would like to be seen by a massive audience looking like a wimp, making a fool of one’s self while jittering and trembling.

2. The fear of mental block.

There could be nothing more embarrassing than being waited upon to say things when you realize that your memory has just failed you. It is not uncommon with people who are speaking in front of a large audience for their mind to go blank . This is caused by the mental stress one undergoes while speaking in public.

3. Doing anything embarrassing.

The fear of becoming a laughingstock is what makes public speaking very frightening. With a large audience before you, you never know what’s in their mind while you are giving your best in delivering your speech.

4. Discontinuing the speech.

It’s another phenomenon that is commonplace with public speaking when one stops talking. Making people wait for your next words is stressful enough to hate public speaking.

5. Not making sense or saying silly things.

Like all the other reasons as to why a lot of people cringe at the thought of speaking in public, mumbling unintelligible words is another one of those shameful things that many would not want to experience.

After knowing all of these terrible things that people are trying to avoid when deciding on a public speaking engagement, it’s high time to learn what can one do to prevent these from happening.

The key element in order not to be a victim of these incidents is to be well-prepared. Nothing can beat preparation when it comes to public speaking. Even the smartest person can make use of ample time to gather all the resources he or she will use before delivering a speech.

Practice will also make things more well-facilitated. Getting more comfortable with your subject entails practicing the speech in front of a smaller audience like your family or even just by yourself.

Also, relaxing oneself before, during and after the speech will make things sail a lot smoother. Doing things that can put you in a relaxed mood such as eating chocolates, getting a breath of fresh air, or even smoking, though not a healthy option, might help you in psyching your body before the talk.

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