Knowing what to say because you have prepared yourself is so important. Do you sometimes feel fearful of public speech? What comes over you when this happens?
If you're anything like me I used to have all sorts of thoughts pop up in my head before a presentation.
What if I forget my information on stage? What if people don't like what I have to say? What if I can't answer their questions correctly?
The best advice I can give to combat these feelings of failure is to work on your notes. It's one of the BEST training you can get to become a better public speaker.
What I want to do is talk about two different formats that many often use. Only one of them is the TRUE ANSWER to what you should be doing. The other will definitely cause you to stumble and make your life on stage worse than it should be.
Speaking from a Manuscript Kills Presentations
There I said it. If you definitely want to have some serious issues and anxiety during your speech, go ahead and write out everything that you want to say word for word on paper. Then take this paper on stage and try to read and talk saying every word on the paper.
That's what a manuscript is. It's basically a written out speech. Every word, every idea you had at the time of developing your material will be written on the cards or paper you're using. This is not the way to go. I'll be the first to tell you that.
For many years this is how I would put together my speeches. It was my only form of communication to my audience. Of course no one could see what I had written down on paper, but they literally heard every word from it. At least most of it anyway.
Do you know why this is a death sentence to overcoming fear of speaking in public and delivering a great presentation? It ruins your overall concentration.
You'll be too focused on trying to get every word out from paper till you completely lose track of what your main objective is. For most people that objective is to win over the crowd and make a point.
Here's an example of a manuscript paragraph that I just made up for the point of this teaching.
"So there I was standing with my hands up waiting on Jim to show up. But do you know what, Jim never showed up. This is the importance of being on time. You can actually lose out on a great business opportunity. Because Jim didn't show up, his sales and commissions were blown for the month of July."
Imagine trying to say all of this in front of an audience without messing up. You're already nervous, so that's going to really throw you off. Plus your speech may sound really made up like you're reading directly from your notes, since that's what you're doing anyway.
Is there any real need to write out a story that you want to tell your audience? If it really happened then you shouldn't even need to write it out word for word. It should be a real life experience that you can tell anyone anytime.
Here's a better way to write out the notes for an effective speech involving the same story.
- Talk about how Jim was late. - Stress the importance of being on time.
That's it! I know what you're probably thinking. How on earth am I going to remember what to say with just those two few things. Simple. Remember at the beginning of this post I talked about preparation. You have to know your material and the rest will fall through successfully. Now let's look at how you can use an outline to help boost your communication with the audience.
Boost Your Skill of Public Speaking Using an Outline
If those two little sentences look like something that's not enough to work with for a presentation, then I'm sorry for you. You can stick writing out manuscripts and hoping that you will be able to cover everything without messing up.
I can tell you right now, the odds will be against you. It's so much better to use an outline. Hey take it from me, I know it may seem like a big life change to you. Trust me though, it'll be very well worth it.
Basically an outline is just a few structures of sentences to express ideas. That's it. It's like a personal cue to you to remember to mention something. Let's do some quick exercises using outlines as notes for some presentation ideas.
What I've listed below are two examples of how I would personally make these paragraphs in the forms of outlines so that I can effectively get my message across to an audience. Here goes.
"One of the benefits to owning an LED flat panel TV is space. Most of these televisions are no more than an inch and a half maybe two inches in width. They are so much lighter than the old tube TVs from the 2000s era. My favorite is Brand X with it's ergonomical five inch remote and touch sensitive buttons. You can preset the TV to play your favorite show at 12:00 pm every day"
Outline version on my notes:
- Talk about benefits of LED flat panels (size, space, etc). - Mention Brand X's remote features. - Talk about presetting channels with Brand X.
Do you see how writing an outline literally forces you to be yourself when doing public speaking? It definitely helps you to be more focused on the whole idea, rather than remembering what to say. You can see that if you know your material, an outline is basically just a hint at what you should be saying. You'll be a lot more relaxed and calm. Plus save yourself a ton of writing on note cards.
Okay, let's do one more. I'll try to make this one a bit more exciting and relevant.
"One of my biggest fears was public speaking. I always wanted to become a better speaker but I had tremendous amounts of stage fright. I worried about what to say and how to say it. I was totally focused on what people would think about me while I was talking. My legs would shake, hands get sweaty and my breathing would cut off somewhat. Then I learned how to write my notes from an outline. This was a lifesaver to me and made me the speaker I am today"
Outline version on my notes:
- Talk about your fears from public speaking. - Mention how an outline helped you.
Hopefully you can kind of get the point by now. An outline is nothing but a shortened summary of what you need to say. The rest lies in how well you know your material.
It does take some practice but eventually you'll really start relying on the use of outlines and wonder why you ever did things differently.