For many, the prospect of public speaking can cause enormous stress. It might be a fear of clamming up or saying the wrong thing or anxiety over not being able to be heard at all. Quiet voices, running out of breath, appearing unsure — these challenges and more are addressed in Better Business Speech: Techniques, Tricks, and Shortcuts for Public Speaking at Work (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, October, 2017). Written by speech coach and actor Paul Geiger, the book is filled with strategies for overcoming the jitters and learning how to be a powerful and authoritative speaker.
Geiger smartly encapsulates mental and physical techniques within a simple and clear framework, reflecting the very approach we should take to our own speeches. To better deliver the main idea, he suggests creating “bumper stickers”: the main ideas of an argument, boiled down to their essence.
It’s an exercise that makes us work to better understand and clarify our own thinking. Then, we can deliver a message the audience can quickly and easily grasp. One of the perils of taking a dais is expecting an audience to be able to retain far too much information, Geiger points out. Starting with the bumper sticker gets the audience on track. Then, keep it to three crisp ideas.
To help hone your delivery and project a sense of confidence, it’s useful to know how to control your own breath, as Geiger explains. The physical aspect of public speaking is key to projecting confidence, as well as honing what the author refers to as Executive Presence. Watch that “up-speak,” or ending a sentence on a raised pitch, which often happens when you run out of breath. Learning how to breathe right solves a host of problems: speaking in a flat monotone, speaking without projecting, and that nervewracking feeling of speaking when you’ve already run out of oxygen. According to Geiger, a speaker should “never start in neutral,” but first take a big, deep breath.
The book also offers exercises on learning how to breathe and speak at the same time, projecting authority with your voice as you keep air in your lungs. There are plenty of helpful tips on gesturing, another minefield for some: when you move naturally, you appear far more at ease — and you keep your mind from racing ahead as you speak.
To tackle that surge of energy a speaker may feel when an audience’s eyes all turn to them, Geiger has reassuring strategies that are easily practiced. That first 15 seconds — what he calls “the energy of attention” — can really trigger an adrenaline surge, setting your heart racing and compressing your breath. Riding it is a matter of settling in, focusing, and above all, relaxing.
Better Business Speech isn’t just for businesspeople. It’s for anyone who has to speak in public. But for someone who’s about to speak at a conference or make a presentation and is already starting to sweat, this is a lifesaver of a book. Filled with an insider’s wisdom and empathetic perspective, it will help you gain courage as you step into the spotlight. From honing your message to breathing, from integrating your body language to projecting authority and confidence, Better Business Speech offers all the tools you need to go out there and communicate effectively.
Learn more at the author’s website.