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Breathe; Prepare; Practice – Public Relations #1

Laura McHarrie was the first person to sign up to Casterbridge Speakers when it was founded in 2008.  She has completed her Competent Communicators and Competent Leadership manuals.  This is the first assignment in the Public Relations Advanced Communicators Series.  The assignment requires you, the audience to be oblivious to the benefits of Casterbridge Speakers.  Her task is to provide information helpful to those who’d benefit from membership of our club in the hope that those interested will visit and subsequently join.  For the benefit of the club this speech is being video’d with the plan to post it on the Internet for marketing purposes.

A Beep intake of Death, ops! A deep intake of Breath …

Mr President, Mr Toastmaster, Fellow speakers and all you who are watching this video …

I’m hazarding a guess that you have some interest in the subject of speaking up in public.  Whether that’s because you’ve been asked to make a toast on behalf of someone, or you have to present to the board or you need to make regular sales pitches.  Whatever your speaking challenge, there are a great many hints and tips that you will find on the Internet.  I would encourage you if you are interested to read up on what you can do to help yourself.

There are just three that I am going to share with you right now.  These underpin all other hints and tips that you might read about.  These three are fundamental and these are the three easy peasy words you need to remember.

Breathe:  Prepare:  Practice

Top tip no 1.  Breathe

My mentee, Stephanie fell off her chair laughing.  She had asked me for one piece of advice so that she didn’t die of fright in front of an audience.  Unless of course death is indeed your preferred alternative to speaking in public, I do recommend breathing.

You see the great thing about breathing is that …

It calms your nerves; it helps maintain a steady volume and it’s great when you need to pause and let your audience know it’s ok to react to your remarks.

So there you go three really good reasons why breathing is fundamental to speaking well … as well as staying alive.

Top tip no 2.  Prepare

Preparing for any type of public speaking can make the world of difference.  Very few speakers can truly wing it.  The better you know your topic the better prepared you are to present it, the more comfortable you will feel. 

A speaking plan is like a chef’s recipe or a carpenter’s blue prints, both are specialists in their field but they don’t reply on their intuition to manage their projects. 

Before you plan your speech you must know your audience and your purpose for speaking to them.  This is essential.  If you don’t know who your audience is, you won’t know how to reach them with your message, your anecdotes or your props.

Your preparation should include the structuring your speech.  You’ll want to grab your audience’s attention when you open, you’ll want to deliver your key messages clearly. Finally you’ll want to close with a lasting memory.

Top tip no 3.  Practice

No matter at what level you are speaking  or to what audience you need to practice, practice, practice. 

Practice your breathing

Practice your style

Practice the words

The more you practice the more proficient you become.  You can practice in front of the mirror – if you are as critical as I am – then definitely not good for your self esteem.

You can practice in front of the dog, that’s … a bit wacky and probably not that useful as your dog offers his love unconditionally and is unlikely to give you any critical feedback

or you can practice in front of a human audience that wants you to do well and will give you some constructive feedback all wrapped up in warm encouragement.

There are speaker clubs throughout the country where you can practice, practice, practice in a safe and friendly environment. 

Me?  I belong to Casterbridge Speakers which offers a relaxed opportunity to learn-by-doing.  Indeed we laugh quite a lot of the time.

There is no instructor; members evaluate one another’s presentations. This feedback is the key to the program’s success.  We learn from each other, by delivering a combination of planned speeches, impromptu talks, and those all important prepared evaluations. 

For more information about Casterbridge speakers please do visit our website www.casterbridgespeakers.org.uk

I’ll leave you now with those three easy peasy words you need to remember.  Breathe, Prepare and Practice;  Come, intake that deep breath with us and have some fun learning how to speak in public with your future friends here at Casterbridge Speakers.

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