The Art of Public Speaking

Did you know most Americans fear public speaking more than they fear death?  If you are one of the many, fear not!  I am one of those who does not enjoy speaking in front of large audiences, so I wanted to share my favorite tips and tricks that I use to help make public speaking a lot less terrifying and a lot more manageable. 

Practice, practice, practice!
Take the time beforehand to go over what you will be speaking about.  Read your presentation out loud to friends and family and even just to the mirror.  Practicing actually speaking out loud will help you realize what words and sentences will be stumbling blocks you might face.  

Tell stories.
Telling personal stories is one of the best ways to connect to the audience and keep their attention.  Whether it be a happy story or a sad story, this avenue allows the audience to connect what they are hearing to everyday life.  It also makes you, the speaker, human… just like them.

Use humor.
If you can make the audience laugh, you will put both them and yourself at ease.  Maybe begin your presentation with a joke or a funny story to help everyone in the room relax.  It is also ok to laugh at yourself.  If you make a mistake, laugh it off and move on.  If you trip over your own feet?  Laugh it off and move on!

Keep the focus on you.
Try not to print out papers to handout before you begin speaking.  This will be a huge distraction as people will read the papers instead of listening to what you have to say.  The same goes for power points.  If you decide to use one, keep the number of words per slide to as few as possible.  Using just pictures and only a word or two per slide would be best (and be sure to test the technology in the room before presenting!)  If you do need to hand papers out, either wait until the end of your presentation or give out a link to a website or blog where they can reread the highlights of what you said.

Be aware of your body language.
Nonverbal communication is one of the strongest forms of communication.  It is important to be aware of it especially when you are the main focus of everyone in the room.  Be sure your body is sending the same message your words are.

Start strong and end strong.
Begin your presentation on a strong note… it is your one chance to make a first impression on your audience.  In addition, be sure to end on a strong note as it is the last thing people will remember.  While you should practice your whole presentation, make sure you go over your first and last points a few extra times.  

Be you!
Always be yourself!  If you let your passion show, the speaking will come easily.  Connect with your audience and speak directly to them--being authentic and genuine will "speak volumes" to your audience. 

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    Caitlin Hofherr

    Before founding Alter Ego Concierge, Caitlin Hofherr worked as the director of a lifestyle management and staffing agency in New York, catering to the needs of elite clientele ranging from Fortune 500 CEO’s to today's biggest celebrities. Beginning her career in the fashion industry working in public relations, Caitlin brought unparalleled customer service to the staffing industry, finding the perfect fit for her clients' household needs. Highly regarded by her clients and peers in the industry, Caitlin has taken her expertise to Chicago, establishing Alter Ego Concierge to bring the finest in lifestyle management services. Alter Ego Concierge is Chicago’s premier full service concierge and domestic staffing agency, offering clients the ability to truly maximize their time to live a stress free life. Caitlin is a contributor at Simply Magnificent, the blog for the Ritz Carlton Residences of Chicago, and has been featured on DailyCandy, ABC News Chicago, Chicago Parent, NBC Chicago, and Mommy On A Shoestring Radio. Caitlin lives in, and loves, Chicago.

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