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Stepping up, speaking out: finding your voice for public speaking. (Influential Women).

Have you ever been asked to introduce someone, give a toast or eulogy, give a seminar or give a formal presentation for your business? I suspect you have been in one of these situations during your lifetime and it will not be the last opportunity for you to get up and speak.

First you must understand the objectives of a public speaker, which are to inform, entertain, touch the emotions and movethe listeners to action.

As a professional speaker, I understand the difficulty many individuals experience when asked to speak publicly. It is not easy for many people to get up in front of a gathering and speak without some element of anxiety. Most speakers, whether a new or seasoned presenter, experience the pre-presentation jitters. I once had a friend tell me this was normal and it keeps one humble. I believe he was right. For I still go through some nervousness with each appearance. Symptoms can range from having a shaky voice, feeling nauseous, blushing, sweaty palms to drawing a blank with your train of thought. It is different for each person.

The solution: EXERCISE, EXERCISE and EXERCISE. Take every opportunity to practise talking in front of people. Start with your family (a small audience and gradually increase the numbers), friends and co-workers. The more you practise, the easier it will get. You may choose to join a club such as Toastmasters to sharpen these skills.

KNOW YOUR SUBJECT WELL. Do not try to address something you do not know about. Research and know the facts about your topic. It is also a good idea to know your audience. To be an effective communicator you should be knowledgeable, sincere, enthusiastic, flexible, personable, logical and on time. You must also possess vocal efficiency and have a good sense of humour.

In doing a presentation your voice is your tool. Consider the type of voice you have: Do you whisper or boom? Is your voice a rain cloud or a rainbow? Do you have mumblitis or are you articulate? Do you talk like a snail or run like a rabbit? Analyse your voice and determine what needs improvement, then practise. Find your own style and discover what works for you.

Be aware that there are seven ways that your body speaks: posture, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, appearance, body movement, approach to front of your audience Impressions are made within fifteen seconds. As you take your position up front as a public speaker, people are already making assumptions by what they see.

By sharpening your "public speaking skills" and being aware of the importance these tools play in your future, you can be productive and successful, both professionally and personally. You must recognize the importance of effectively communicating with others. It is not only what you say, it is how you convey it.

Written by Joan Kulmala, image coach and professional speaker, president of Totally-U Image Communications.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:tips for public speaking
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Previous Article:Special Recognition Award 2002 - Karen Shaw. (Influential Women).
Next Article:Bidding farewell to executive roles. (Influential Women).

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