Before any public speaking event, it’s expected that the speaker will put in vast amounts of time preparing and rehearsing. But, ultimately coming across as authentic and self-assured takes more than writing a well-organized speech or committing your talking points to memory. In his new book, Better Business Speech – Techniques, Tricks, and Shortcuts for Public Speaking at Work (Rowman & Littlefield, October 8, 2017), Paul Geiger, an actor, voice-over artist and esteemed speech coach, covers all the possibilities that can go wrong in public speaking and shares how to get them right.
Geiger reminds us that 50 percent of a message is conveyed not through words, but through body language. With this in mind, he devotes much of the book to managing the physical aspects of public speaking. Even beyond making eye contact and using appropriate gestures, Geiger emphasizes how to own your breath. Deliberate breathing — whether for calming your nerves, adding emphasis to your words or overcoming that annoying up-speak — is key to becoming a powerful public speaker. The breath adds vocal fuel so that you rev up before speaking, and refrain from starting in neutral.
He addresses how to get past the wave of anxiety that washes over you when you take the stage. Describing a phenomenon he calls “the energy of attention” — that rush of excitement when all eyes are on you — Geiger advises to expect it and offers ways to ride it out during those first critical seconds.
Thanks to TED Talks, it’s easy to learn how masters of public speaking put all the pieces together as they expertly relay their story. Geiger advises finding a speaker you like, and then analyzing the person’s use of gestures, facial features, pauses and so on to keep the audience engaged. Don’t be afraid to shamelessly steal from others.
While formal presentations represent the Super Bowl of business speech, other speaking challenges present themselves in meetings, on sales calls, during interviews or in networking situations. These also require knowing how to appropriately prepare for game time. Once more, it’s key to hone the message you want to deliver in advance. In networking or interview settings, Geiger describes three stories to prepare in advance — the Mentor story, the Leadership story and the Overcoming Challenges story, each in long and short versions — that will cover whatever ground the situation demands. When someone asks you to tell a bit about yourself, you’re ready to make full use of the moment.
Better Business Speech is organized by chapter to allow you to easily find specific tips for a particular type of business setting or for a speech technique you hope to master. With his book, Geiger has provided a comprehensive and solutions-oriented user’s manual to meet any speaking challenge your professional life demands with both authenticity and authority.
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