THE BLOG

Have a Fear of Public Speaking? Here is One Solution!

02/09/2015 09:05 am ET | Updated Apr 07, 2015

onstructor Antoienette Byron
Public Speaking Coach Antoinette Byron photo by Jay

The New York Times had a story recently about famed author Henry Alford, who has just published a new book and was getting ready for a book tour. "Public speaking can give you the willies," he said. " Even the most seasoned speakers worry they will be exposed as frauds." Alford decided to join New York's Toastmasters, the organization there which lets people practice speeches to one another. I really sympathize with him, since I am sort of in the same fix. I am booked to give about a dozen talks to various groups in the next few months. As a regular blogger for the Huffington Post, a restaurant critic and a film producer, I have a lot to say.....but the prospect still gives me sleepless night. Yes, I am experienced at talking in public...but as Henry said, it still 'gives me the willies.' So I have decided to spend another evening at a class which has proved to be invaluable to me in preparing for the ordeal. It is called POWERFUL PRESENTATIONS and proved to be a lifesaver the last time I took it a few years ago. It's a three-hour interactive, fun and informative class which allows participants to practice their skills in delivering 'powerful presentations' in the real world. It will take place on February 25thth, from 7 pm to 10 pm, at the Art Center College of Design on its South Campus at 950 South Raymond Ave. in Pasadena. If you want to join me there, go to www.artcenter.edu/can, select 'Register' when you see 'Powerful Presentations" or call 626-396-2319. Its cost is reasonable and it is a lifesaver to those of us (everyone!) who gets nervous when speaking in public.

The instructor is a well-known Australian actress/lecturer who has been teaching these classes for almost a decade. She is a highly-qualified communications coach who is skilled in helping with voice and public speaking practices. The last time I attended the class she gently corrected me after I gave a short extemporaneous talk to the class about a subject which was given to me. She said I was slouching, using my hands too much, and wasn't taking enough pauses to give an impact to the talk. "Take pauses...don't rush through it...don't lean on the table (yes!) and make more eye contact with the listeners. Shoulders back, show the audience you are in command." Wow! Of course she was right..and I think it helped me immeasurably when I went out to speak after that.

This workshop, of about a dozen people sitting around a table, is invaluable to building confidence in speaking with power and purpose. It can be a real eye-opener, a fine tune-up to those of us who think we are experienced, seasoned speakers. I realized that there are always excellent practical tips which we can get with real-world applications. She concentrates on words, voice and visuals. Surprisingly, she told us that the latter two account for 93% of the success of a presentation. So, if you also have a fear of public speaking, perhaps a few hours in this class can help to alleviate that discomfort. See you!

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