Missed this week's #thefuturestory? Our Interim Account Director, Christina, tells us all about the tips public speaking expert Christine Mockford shared with us:  

As communications professionals, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we at theblueballroom are all completely sanguine about the prospect of getting up and giving a talk or presentation. And you might think the same would be true of the lovely folk who attended Wednesday’s thefuturestory seminar at London’s RADA Studios on the power of the individual. The truth is quite different – most of us are petrified – but public speaking expert Christine Mockford assured us that was OK.

Whether you view fear as the necessary adrenaline-inducing evil that gets you pumped up before you get up to talk, or dread the fact that it’ll make you shake so much that your audience will notice (not to worry, they really won’t!), Christine’s message is that you shouldn’t let fear hold you back.  We all feel it, and we can still be great public speakers anyway.

To get things into perspective, Christine took us through a quick myth-busting session.  Think good speakers are born, not made?  Not so – it’s a skill that anyone can acquire.  Think you need to be perfect?  Nope – mistakes are OK, as long as you handle them well (more about that later).  Worried that you’re just not interesting or important enough to be standing in front of an audience, that they won’t care what you’ve got to say?  Fear not – it’s really not all about you: give your audience something interesting and they’ll be very forgiving; make it fun, show you’re human, invite them to participate, make it about them.

There are a few characteristics and behaviours all good speakers have in common, including a knowledge of their subject, a belief in what they’re presenting and real enthusiasm for imparting it to their audience.  They come across as being confident and at ease with themselves, and they’re not afraid to show their feelings.

This latter attribute is the one that helps you cope with those inevitable mistakes.  The audience is (usually) on your side, so when things go wrong they will want you to succeed.  By connecting with them and showing you’re human, you can pick up where you left off and all will be well.  As long as you don’t just stop dead and give up, the show will go on – possibly better than before.

During the breakout session I attended, several of us bit the bullet and got up to talk for a minute or so in front of the rest of the group about the first thing to enter our minds.  Most ended up telling funny stories, often about our personal public speaking disasters.  Christine’s critiques were gentle but firm, and I’m sure we all left the room feeling more confident about keeping our fears in perspective, practising, using pauses to great effect and powerfully projecting ourselves to give our audiences something meaningful and engaging next time we stand up in front of the PowerPoint!

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