Ahhh! I Have to Give a What?

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Last night while watching the 63rd Annual Golden Globes, I realized something—stage fright strikes the most beautiful, most handsome, most talented individuals just as much as it strikes the everyday middle manager or company leader. So, how is an actor like Joaquin Phoenix—who has held numerous successful movie roles and recently performed numerous Johnny Cash hits in front of 50 prisoners—look like a deer caught in the headlights as he accepted his Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy Film Award?


I guess being dressed to the nines is not the ultimate cure for stage fright. But considering that public speaking and communication are among the top soft skills sought after by companies today, everyone—including IT professionals—should refresh those skills. In order to be an effective public speaker, you should plan or outline what you are going to say. While watching the various stars accept awards last night, you could tell from the moment someone stepped onto the extravagant stage who was prepared and who decided to wing it. Whether it is just mentally going through the main points you wish to discuss or actually writing a speech, knowing what you are going to say is a sure way to calm your nerves.


So once you feel prepared, what is the best delivery technique? Should you read from a script, use notes or recite it from memory? Reading from a script is often considered the least desirable approach because often a speaker fails to stay connected with the audience and vice-versa. If you have a hard time with memorization, using notes to direct a speech is an effective way to improve your delivery. Notes should be structured as an outline that only includes key points and keywords. Because notes are not a full script, a speaker will therefore be able to better connect with his or her audience. But reciting a speech from memory should probably be left to the professionals. If public speaking is not your forte—meaning you get sweaty palms, shaky legs and butterflies in your stomach just thinking about it—performing a speech by memory is not a good option.


In the end, it seems that preparation is the “golden ticket” to delivering a successful speech; however, sporting an Armani suit and tie has never hurt a person’s performance either.

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