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Presentation Skills - Myth versus Reality

by Rowena Crosbie, President, Tero International

Fire, electrical blackout, locust, earthquake..." Thus the apprehensive speaker prays. For him, speaking in front of a group is the experience to be feared most. More than fear of heights, fear of spiders and even fear of dying. The statistics indeed support Jerry Seinfeld's humorous claim that most people at a funeral would rather be the corpse than the person delivering the eulogy.

But, it's the ability to communicate effectively with individuals and groups that is cited as the number one factor contributing to the success of the highest paid people in America. So its definitely a fear worth conquering.

Like overcoming any fear, the solution lies in education, understanding and good ole repetition.

As in any industry, modern research and technology have invalidated much of what we took for granted five, ten and twenty years ago. Unfortunately, old thinking and myths have plagued countless presenters from developing this critical skill.

Myth #1: Start out with a joke - it gets the audience warmed up.

Myth #2: Write your speech out so the most powerful words are used.

Myth #3: I like to put my hands in my pockets. It makes me feel relaxed and makes the atmosphere casual.

Myth #4: Scan your audience, everyone will think you're looking at them. That's important.

Myth #5: An alcoholic beverage prior to presenting will relax you and make you sharper - just one!

Myth #6: It doesn't matter if you run a few minutes long in your presentation. The topic is an interesting one and after all, they invited you to speak.

Myth #7: Tell them all the background information and all the factors considered and effecting the topic. It's very technical but very necessary.

Myth #8: You're there to inform them of progress and not trying to persuade anyone, so why worry about presentation techniques?

Myth #9: Take questions during your presentation to be certain everyone is with you at all times.

Myth #10: Practice makes perfect.

Myth #11: Use the techniques you've seen used by the late night talk show hosts. Its effective for them so it must be right.

Myth #12: If you don't speak to groups often, don't waste time and money attending a development program on the subject.

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