Public Speaking at Work – Personal Experience
Yesterday was a new experience for me. It was the first time that I spoke at a presentation in a corporate setting. Similar to most people, public speaking doesn’t come naturally to me. I am prone to get nervous, self conscious of the way I pronounce words and lose the direction I am taking the audience to.
Fortunately this wasn’t my first public speaking in general. People who have or are attending university a course can attest to the requirement of public speaking for some subjects. You get up in front of a hall of fellow students and present what you have previously researched.
However yesterday the audience was not a bunch of indifferent students playing ‘angry birds’ on their phones with only half their attention span tuned to me. The audience consisted of a few managers right up to the senior level and a dozen financial analysts.
I would have to say the build up to the presentation was the most nerve racking. Once it started I managed to get into a comfort zone and speak my words relatively well.
I believe that one of the ways I have improved myself in the public speaking arena is doing it regularly (in uni). I remember when I had to present in high school, I read my words at 1000 wpm racing with the time & with shaking hands. You would think I had an early onset of Parkinson’s if you saw me. Yesterday’s presentation was actually a friendly audience who were curious to learn rather than judge or scrutinise, so it helped immensely in cooling my nerves.
I now try to make a conscious check on the speed of my words, trying to average them to the same level as I would speak to the person.
Reading straight from the PowerPoint’s is a thing I try to avoid, yet the difficulty I face sometimes is forgetting what the bullet points require me to talk about, so I begin to babble, regurgitating sentences I have just said, further digging myself deeper into a mud-hole.
I once heard someone give good advice about presenting. They said that you can skip points and even slides, the audience won’t notice as long as you make it flow. This is especially good advice if you have a time limit. If I have already started on a point but begin to babble I try to take a pause and reset myself.
Coincidently I just recently watched ‘The King’s Speech’. Thankfully I don’t stutter, but I could definitely improve on the clarity of my words.
I’ll finish with one of the infamous Bushisms spoken by George W Bush in his presidency. After all he wasn’t the best speaker.
““There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on, shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.'” — Nashville, Tennessee; September 17, 2002