Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cure Your Public Speaking Qualms

I have a book on my shelves about public speaking. Just one.  I've tried to part with it many times (only so much shelf space, you know) but I may have to admit it's simply a keeper.

What to Say When...You're Dying on the Platform is packed with outstanding, practical tips, well-organized (making it a good reference book, in addition to good advice) and its tone light and zippy enough to make it a joy to read. 

The book's copyright date is 1995.
Hey, don't judge. 

I like to think this is a sign of my loyalty. Thus far this book has been something I could rely through two husbands, two kids, three moves, several jobs/career moves. Why give it up now?

While I don't consider myself a "professional" public speaker, I seem to land in front of an audience several times a year (not counting when I stand up and complain ask questions at city council meetings). The book provides all that good advice a trusted friend would give you, like "go to the bathroom before you speak," "plan for laughter and interruptions," and lists a variety of ways to protect your voice, before, during and after your speech. 

Here are some examples of the zippy advice offered to nervous speakers in What to Say...

When you get sidetracked or lose your train of thought
- If any of you have heard me speak before, go on to my next thought and I'll catch up  

When you clobber a pronunciation or utter gobbledy-gook 
- Later, I'll pass out printed translations of that sentence - or 
- To help you, the rest of my speech will be dubbed in English 

Lengthier, less jovial advice is offered for more serious topics, including how to go on and deliver a speech or presentation when your heart is heavy.

Equally important, the book also includes a few suggestions on what NOT to say in certain situations.

The Bottom Line? Download and Speak Up! 

Generally, reviews of the book have been positive.  The only complaint I've seen repeated is that the book is a bit too lighthearted. To that I say, first, public speaking isn't brain surgery - or any other sort of science. So, lighten up! And second, I think the author knows her audience well.

Obviously, this book is ideal for someone who's a little bit afraid of public speaking (and based on studies, that's approximately all of us). In addition to all the good advice the book includes, compiled from dozens of professional speakers, actors, and comedians, it will also make you laugh.

And a speaker in a good mood is a better speaker. So there.

While I'm not about to give up my vintage copy, if you want your own, good news - it's still in print. Also, you can download the ebook and use that precious shelf space for something else. Like your trophy for public speaking. ;)

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