Ten "Musts" For A Successful Speech

NEW YORK, NY | Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fear of public speaking ranks high on nearly every study of common anxieties -- higher even than the fear of death! As someone who has delivered hundreds of speeches before groups of all kinds, and trained many people to do the same, I have some insights on this. What people really fear is not so much public speaking itself as the possibility of being unprepared for a speech. If you prepare well, you will eliminate most of the fear. Here are the ten "MUSTS" for a successful speech. Cover all ten, and you will be well prepared for the big event.

1. You MUST use humor to establish rapport with the audience very early on in the speech -- and preferably self-deprecating humor. (Abraham Lincoln was once accused of being two-faced. Lincoln replied, "If I had two faces, do you think this is the one I'd be wearing?" ) 2. You MUST know your audience and match your content to their world.

3. You MUST know your material thoroughly. In other words, you must practice delivering the major points, in the order you want to cover them, preferably in front of people such as family or friends. (Doing this ahead of time will also help you identify what should be eliminated from the speech.) Consider making an audio or video of your speech and reviewing it closely before you deliver it to a "live" group. 4. You MUST know your own strengths and weaknesses as a speaker. Make sure you are emphasizing your strengths during the speech.

5. You MUST wear appropriate attire for the occasion.

6. You MUST project comfort and confidence to the audience. Erect posture and the ability to take deep breaths is a part of this. Do not confuse "confidence" with "arrogance"—being able to admit that you do not know something, or that you made an error about something, will usually win you attention and interest.

7. You MUST use appropriate body language – hand gestures, walking, spreading your arms – to retain visual interest from the audience.

8. You MUST speak comprehensibly. If this is a problem according to other people who listen to you practice delivering your speech, make a conscious choice to slow down and enunciate. Find ways to remind yourself of this during the speech.

9. You MUST speak loudly enough to be heard by everyone. (If you don't have a microphone, pitch your voice so that the person in the back of the room will hear what you're saying.) 10. You MUST speak with enthusiasm and conviction. If the audience does not believe that you believe what you're saying, they will tune out.

STEPHAN SCHIFFMAN is the president of D.E.I., one of the largest sales training companies in the U.S. He is the author of a number of best-selling books including Cold Calling Techniques (That Really Work!), and The 25 Sales Habits of Highly Effective Salespeople, and Stephan Schiffman's Telesales. Schiffman's writings have appeared in many publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and INC. magazine. He has appeared as a guest on CNBC's "Minding Your Business," "How to Succeed in Business," and "Smart Money," among many other programs. Mr. Schiffman holds degrees from Ithaca College and Cornell, and has taught at New York University, Marymount Collge, and Adelphi University. He is a past president of the New York City Chamber of Commerce. For more information about Schiffman and D.E.I. Management, please call (800) 224-2140 or visit www.dei-sales.com

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