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Dave Clark discusses power your confidence and power your business.

Speaking to a large audience can be a daunting task. Not only are the pressures to perform and deliver multiplied, but also the pitfalls for failure greatly increased.

So why take such risks? Even the most gifted and natural of communicators can often find the thought of speaking to a large audience overwhelming. And with so much at stake, what are the real gains for speaking to a larger audience or convention?




Presentation Article and Advice about Delivery Skills

Power your confidence and power your business.

Dave Clark, Communication Consultant, 123PPT.com

Going...going...gone!

I visited my dentist last week. As I sat there biting my nails waiting in reception I heard the not too distant sound of a drill burying itself deep inside someone's teeth. As it pounded hard against the enamel, those all too painful images came straight to mind. After just a few seconds of thought, my hands became a little sweatier, my heart to beat a little faster, and that moment of, "It's not too late...I can still get out of here!" came, as I bit my lip and thought, "Yes, come on...run for it!"

I've been giving presentations, and speeches to large audiences for over 15 years now. Yet still, even after all this time, it's just like visiting the dentist. That fear. The knowledge that several hundred people are going to be looking at only one thing. Listening to only one voice. Watching every movement. Following every word.

Almost every public speaker has that fear. Many overcome it. Many turn the fear into an adrenalin rush. After all why use Amphetamines when you can get the same kick from speaking? Many, myself included never lose the fear, only learn how to cope much better with it.

It's funny because when I visit my dentist I know why I am going there. I know the benefits I will get afterwards. But when I think of speaking to a large audience, it doesn't have that clarity. Instead I have a feeling of confusion, of self-doubt. Why am I standing on a stage? What do I really have to say? What happens if they don't like me? What happens if people get up and start walking out while I am speaking?

The lack of reward coupled with the thought of dying a long silent death on stage during a speech are feelings and anxieties that seem to affect more presenters than not.


Pushing our limits

So why do it? Why push yourself through it. After all it's not like the pain one experiences from a broken tooth, cavity, or sensitive gum. Why fix something that isn't broken?

Well the answer is simple. When you force yourself to stand and speak in front of a large audience, you also increase your self-confidence.

Excuse me? Self-confidence? How is that possible when I'm standing there shaking?

Well, much as I hate to refer to our dental hygienist once more, when our dentist attacks that tooth, it can be a fairly painful process. And when it's over, the feeling of numbness still remains in the mouth, it feels battered and bruised, but in a short while it clears. The pain is gone. And you find yourself biting on apples and ripping through steaks again. Gone are the cereals and the soft breads bring in the cakes and the candy, the ice cream and the cold drinks. Nothing can hurt those teeth now. They're invincible.

Strange isn't it how quickly we forget the pain that once was, and our confidence to push our limits emerge.


Confidence begets confidence

Self-confidence comes from challenging our adversities and emerging victorious. Knowing that, "Yes. I can do it!" And self-confidence affects every aspect of our lives. From how we speak and communicate with others, to how we dress and how we live our lives. But if this is not enough, if you're still not convinced, consider this. Public speaking, and most importantly, publicly speaking to a large audience is perhaps the single most cost effective way to gain awareness and visibility of yourself and your organization.

If you are in a position of leadership, if you are in a consulting role, if you are in an entrepreneurial position, or if you simply need to get more focus on you business. Putting yourself consistently in front of larger audiences is a sure fire way to raise your value, to improve your persona, and move from one of aspiring businessperson to field authority.

And with authority comes increased consumer confidence, and with increased consumer confidence, increased sales and market opportunities. And with increased sales and market opportunities, increased profit potential and bottom lines.


Size really does matter

There's no denying the effect public speaking has on an organization. Perhaps that's why so many companies line up and try to get placements on a convention schedule. Imagine you were launching a new product. Can you think of a better way to lift awareness than when several hundred key player and market eyes are fixed solely on your product?

But don't be fooled into believing that this is some form of free marketing opportunity. Gaining the trust and confidence of a large audience is not a question of standing on a stage and quoting your PowerPoint presentation. You need to prepare to a greater degree. If you are showing a presentation it needs to be bigger. It needs to be better. It needs to be clearer. And it needs to communicate faster. Far from a free marketing opportunity. Speaking to a large audience requires a great deal of work, but does n return provide so much greater rewards, exposure, and awareness.

The more you stand in front of an audience and share your expertise, your knowledge, and your foundations, the stronger your business will become and the greater the likelihood it has to increase its overall profit margins.


The agony and the ecstasy

Of course public speaking is painful. One sees the current debate between President George W Bush and Senator John Kerry, and sees the difficulties that public speaking can bring. But it's important to remember that every good speaker only became a good speaker through practice. Not through politics, or through promotion. But through practice and patience. Through mistakes and through learning.

And whilst practicing in front of several hundred people or more might not appeal to your sense of commitment, or indeed your audience's sense of patience. There are plenty of ways to practice your speaking techniques, though impromptu is usually not one. As Mark Twain once said, "It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech".

Public speaking will always demand a lot from you. Speakers that look relaxed and composed, as though they haven't needed to prepare at all, because their speech is just natural, are merely very experienced speakers who have learned over time how to control their fears and present themselves and deliver their message in a very deliberate way. The result is that audience put confidence in their words because they are not appearing as notes or something foreign, but as natural and knowledgeable, and therefore authoritative.

Addressing your colleagues and speaking at corporate monthly meetings, are good ways to face initial fears to public speaking. Starting small and building up.

Imagine if your dentist was able to say, "We won't drill that tooth today, we'll just begin by rubbing it gently. Come back next week and we'll rub it some more. Over time it'll be strong and healthy". Isn't that a dentist whose waiting room would be overcrowded? I'd like a job there as the receptionist to speak to those crowds!

So if you still feel weary, or the thought of standing in front of a large audience reminds you of a dentists drill think about your own bottom line.

What would you give to build your reputation? What would you give to be considered an expert, and regarded as an authority in your field? What would you give to boost your profits? And what are you doing to ensure your success?
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