Enterprise Careers: Inside Track

SAN MATEO (03/13/2000) - Noting that most people rank death as their greatest fear second to public speaking, comedian Jerry Seinfeld concluded that many folks would rather be the subject of a eulogy than the deliverer. Whether the prospect of making a public presentation gives you the icy chills or a giddy thrill, following are some tips to aid you.

1. Do your homework

Amy Glass, a trainer, facilitator, and director of client services at Brody Communications, in Elkins Park, Penn., suggests that you think about your presentation PAL: purpose, audience, and logistics. What do you want from your audience? How much knowledge does that audience have? What logistics, such as time, audience size, and room size, might affect your presentation?

2. Give them a reason to listen

Glass suggests four steps to engage your audience from the get-go. Start with a "grabber," Glass says, such as a shocking statistic or a story. "They deserve a way to grab their attention." Second, tell listeners how they'll benefit from your presentation. Third, outline your credibility. Finally, map out the general direction of your presentation.

3. Stay open and connected

Personally connect with your listeners to engage them. "A lot of people stand behind the podium because it feels safe," says Nick Morgan, a speech coach and editor of the Harvard Management Communication Letter, in Boston. "As soon as you move towards an audience, you raise the energy level." Be aware of your stance. Crossed arms, for example, imply defensiveness. "Stay open," he says.

"Reach toward the audience."

4. Make a call for action

Getting members of your audience to perform a small action greatly increases the likelihood that they will buy in to your message, Morgan says. For example, John F. Kennedy urged Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." That small phrase, says Morgan, "inspired a lot of people to join the Peace Corps."

5. End with a bang

Conclude your presentation with a memorable statement, such as your call to action, before opening up for a question-and-answer session. Once the session ends, "take that moment to reiterate that last memorable statement," Glass says. "People remember what they hear last."

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