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FAQ about Public Speaking:

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VerbaCom Executive Development
7920 Belt Line Road, Suite 610
Dallas, Texas 75254

Throughout the years, our clients have asked questions or have had concerns about various aspects of public speaking. Here are a few of the most the most typical. Hopefully, they will address some area of your own concerns about the art of public speaking.
- Irene Zucker

What causes nervousness?

There are two primary causes of nervousness and anxiety: one's ego and the other is the lack of proper preparation.

Our ego, whether or not we're aware, tends to have us focus on ourselves. We become more self-centered, focusing on "me, me, and me." Before presenting, our ego makes us worry about appearing foolish to an audience and embarrassing ourselves. The possibility of unknowingly doing or saying something "dumb" and losing credibility or reputation, creates a very natural response - the anxiety, nervousness and fear we hear so much about.

It is difficult to prepare adequately if the knowledge of what to do or say and how to do it, is lacking. This can lead to doubts about the quality of the presentation's effectiveness. Presenting to an audience while not being sure of what we are doing and whether we prepared the talk correctly is devastating to our confidence. What's worse is the possibility that we may embarrass ourselves and not even be aware of it! Again, fear and anxiety are natural responses.
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I've heard that if you just keep on speaking in front of people, eventually you will get used to it and nervousness will go away.

Not true. Nothing takes the place of an understanding and internalization of the use of proper presentation skills. With that kind of knowledge and ability, you are then freed to concentrate on your message and not how you will appear to the audience.
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I tend to ramble and get off message when I speak. How can I overcome this?

Assuming your presentation is well-organized, well-written, correctly timed, focused on audience expectations, and you deliver it well, then avoid the temptation to adlib by sticking to the script!
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I've memorized, practiced and even recorded my presentations and I am still anxious while presenting. My job requires this, what can I do?

You do have a choice. You can look for another job that is not as "visible" and perhaps miss out on some great opportunities at your current job. Look at making great presentations as an opportunity to show your knowledge, expertise and potential to your bosses and to the outside world. By the way, never memorize a speech. Learn the basic points and structure of the ideas (not exact words), you are going to say. Your delivery will appear more spontaneous.
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I normally talk with my hands. It makes me self conscious when I'm giving a speech and sometimes makes me lose my train of thought. Are there techniques I can use to keep my hands from going all over the place when I'm speaking?

Using hand gestures is a good delivery technique provided that they appear to demonstrate your verbal message naturally. Gestures provide a visual message related to what's being said and should never be forced.
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I know you're supposed to stay at the podium when speaking but I like to step away from it and walk around. It helps make me less tense. Is that OK sometimes?

Whether you stay at the podium depends on two things: First, the purpose of the event or presentation. For example, a person giving a press release would remain at the podium to read the statement words exactly to avoid any misinterpretation. Second, if during a presentation, you feel more comfortable engaging the audience, "getting in their faces" by leaving the podium, then itís perfectly fine. Be careful to move only to emphasize your verbal message. Pacing can be very distracting and is not recommended.
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