Business presentations and stage fright

We have a person in our office who must have been born with the skills, talent and ability to be totally outgoing and give a speech or presentation in the blink of an eye. However, according to a 2005 human resources survey, approximately 15% of employed people are very apprehensive about communicating orally in organizational settings. Virtually everyone, about 85% of the population, in fact, experiences “stage fright” when giving a speech.

Another person in our office, we’ll have to call him “Joe”, was near the bottom of that 85%. He was probably one of the 5% of us who have an excessive and debilitating fear of public speaking.

Realizing that this could affect his career moving forward, he decided he needed to do something. Shakespeare wrote, “All the world is a stage. And all men and women are mere players,” but if we are not very good players, we may face lost business opportunities, lost customers, being passed over for promotions. Any one of these events can cost us tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of our career. So our “Joe” sought help for acting professionals who teach how to transfer acting skills to the business world, and he really made a difference.

I know of two places in Houston, Texas that have acting classes to help the business person; “Joe” went to the Houston Academy of Dramatic Arts (www.hadaedu.org) and Lasater Training (www.barbaralasater.com). Most cities of any size have acting schools that also offer lessons for entrepreneurs who present or speak in public. Hopefully you can find someone in your city if you need this type of training. Until then, the following tips will help you improve your presentation skills:

    Practice: Okay, it’s like learning to play the piano, practice, practice, practice, but it’s surprising how many people don’t practice in front of a mirror or in front of friends.
    Visualize: See yourself successfully presenting to a satisfied audience and envision your audience as people no different from you. That’s what they are.
    know your subject: This should be obvious, but a lot of people just don’t prepare their material and then get stage fright because they don’t feel prepared. Go figure.
    Focus on one idea that is usable: All your audience really wants is to walk away with something they can wear.
    Relax: If you are at ease, your audience will be at ease.
    use resources: A good Flash or PowerPoint presentation can make your presentation more interesting and make your work easier.

What, of course, you will do more of is real training, at an acting school or elsewhere, that incorporates practice in front of class audiences and develops skills such as voice control and body movement. “Joe” can now present himself at work and networking events with the poise of Tom Cruise.

Imagine being able to sit down at a piano and just PLAY – Ballads, Pop, Blues, Jazz, Ragtime, even amazing Classical pieces? Now you can… and you can do it in months not years without wasting money, time and effort on traditional Piano Lessons.

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