Top 7 Tips For Speaking Confidently Without Cockiness
By Bill Lampton, Ph.D.
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You have access to hundreds of articles, books, podcasts, and videos designed to help you control your stage fright, so you can speak with unmistakably impressive confidence and poise. I applaud those resources, and every colleague who directs you to them. Yet only rarely do you read, see, and hear guidelines for keeping that confidence boost in check-so that you won't offend your audience by moving beyond confidence into cockiness. To remedy that imbalance, consider these top 7 tips for keeping your healthy ego under control.
- Behave Like a Guest, Not Like a Prima Donna
Leave it to show business celebrities to require upgrades to first class flights and suites, complimentary travel and entertainment expenses for your spouse, and two free hotel nights after the event.
Stated more positively, act like a member of the welcoming and arrangements committee. Examples: Arrive early to meet and strike up conversations with attendees. Distribute your handouts, without requesting help from the very busy meeting planner. Ask where your host wants you to sit, without heading automatically to the head table. Identify the planning committee, and thank every one individually for their highly professional preparation.
- Avoid Sounding Like a One-Person Dynamo
Sure, your credentials reflect that you're a leader-otherwise you wouldn't be addressing this group. But refer frequently to those who helped you get there. As some wise coaches have warned, beware of "I Disease." Throw in plenty of "we" credits.
A vivid annual illustration: Football fans who watch the Heisman Trophy presentation every December respond warmly to a nominee's speech when he says: "I appreciate all the kind words that have been said about my playing career. But I can't take anywhere near all the credit. My mother and father encouraged me to train and play. They attended every game they could travel to. My coaches helped me develop my God-given skills. And those linemen up front opened the way for me to make those record runs and winning touchdowns. Plus, I'm proud of the strong support from this marvelous university."
Similarly, the business speaker should express gratitude for her management team, mentors, support staff, and others who made her accomplishments possible.
- Tell Success Stories That Revolve Around Other People
Yes, you can mention your own life and career story modestly, as long as you keep your personal recollections brief and shift the focus regularly onto remarkable colleagues who will inspire your audience.
Think of how Paul Harvey became a beloved speaker, because he centered his presentations on events in the lives of ordinary people. True, he talked occasionally about his travels and his wife nicknamed Angel. Repeatedly, though, the heroes of his speeches and broadcasts were not the Harveys. They were housewives, nurses, educators, small business owners, young people, and humanitarians.
- Avoid Excessive Name Dropping
Extreme blunders: "Let me share now what Bill Gates said to me last week while we enjoyed lunch" or "Sure good to be with your group again. Maybe you watched Matt Lauer interview me yesterday on The Today Show, so I'm not really a stranger to you this morning."
Mention famous people and events only if they are highly relevant to your message. Even then, focus on their expertise, not yours. Admit that you were extremely fortunate to associate with internationally recognized authorities.
- Remember That Your Audience Didn't Tune Into the Travel Channel
Not only do they not really care where you have been or where you are going next, giving them your itinerary could become quite offensive. Have you heard opening lines like these? "Pardon me if I'm a little groggy, didn't get much sleep last night on that long flight back from Hawaii" or "This is a lovely auditorium. Sort of reminds me of the cruise ship I spoke on last week as we spent seven days in the Caribbean."
Chances are good that many of your listeners don't enjoy the changes of scenery you get professionally. Beware, then, of stimulating envy and resentment by recalling your exotic trips.
- Refrain From Giving Arrogant Answers in the Q&A Segment
Stay away from sarcastic statements that could embarrass questioners, such as: "You're serious...you really didn't know that?" Even one condescending remark will spot you as arrogant and uncaring.
- Admit That You Don't Know Everything
"Thanks for that excellent question, Evelyn. Although I have had some experience with the software you're asking about, I'm going to call on your group's vice president to handle your question, because Marvin has helped several companies get started with that system."
Turning the program over to another person temporarily suggests that you are comfortable giving credit to others, without diminishing your own authority.
Bill Lampton, Ph.D., "Speech Coach for Champions," helps clients speak with "poise, power, and persuasion," so they will generate "attention, agreement, and action." His top-tier client list includes Gillette, Duracell, Procter and Gamble, Ritz-Carlton Cancun, and Celebrity Cruises. Visit his Web site to sign up for his complimentary online newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/otlcgz. Call him: 678-316-4300 Visit his Facebook business page: [http://bit.ly/k69F5C].
Article Submitted On: June 30, 2011