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[Speaking-Out-Loud February 2013]Business Speaking
February 26, 2013

Welcome to the February Issue of Speaking-Out-Loud's monthly E-zine to help you effectively 'talk your walk'.

If this E-zine speaks to you, then quite likely it will talk sense to your friends, family or work mates too. Please pass it along.

You might even suggest that they sign up! The page to send them to is here Speaking-Out-Loud

Remember, if you have any questions you're most welcome to ask them through my contact form. I enjoy hearing from my readers and will respond as soon as I am able.


In this Issue

If you don't have time to read the whole ezine, click on the topic that interests you. This month you will find:

Susan's Spiel

Business speaking
Guest speaker at a conference, a presentation to management, an important phone call to a client, chairing a meeting - all of them are business speaking. 3 great resources to improve your skills for native as well as non-native English speakers. Find out more

Help! I'm an introvert ...
And I don't like being in large groups of people and I like it even less when they're all focused on me waiting for me to speak. Suggestions to successfully combine being an introvert AND a good public speaker. Yes, it can be done!

Practicing for success
There's a myth supporting lack of speech rehearsal. It apparently makes us stale - flat and yet, without it how are you going to find out BEFORE you deliver your talk - that it doesn't really make sense or flow logically, that it's too long, that the joke you planned is in poor taste, that your voice is too small for the room ... 7 basic rehearsal steps for speakers who don't want nasty surprises.

I am always looking for ways to improve the site. If you see any errors or would like to contribute in any way, please accept this invitation to contact me through my About Me page.

Thank you for reading.

Happy speaking,


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Business speaking

Are you one of those many people who feel more than a little rattled when you have to give a presentation?

You know public speaking skills are an essential part of your business tool kit but you would be happier if you could leave them unused or, if you have to speak, at least unexamined. That would leave you free to get on with the really important stuff namely; business as usual. And that multi-slide, text-heavy product presentation you read screen by screen to a room full of clock-watching captives could slip quietly into oblivion.

However, if you're honest you'll know the only way you're going to get comfortable and effective when presenting is through doing more and actively learning from the experience.

This Harvard Business Review post from Peter Sims Going from "Suck to Non-Suck" as a Public Speaker highlights the painful, yet positive role of feedback.

Do look. It's a very open and honest article charting the progress toward becoming free, captivating and at ease in front of an audience. Take time to read the comments too. There are gems among them.

And if you'd like to lift the quality of your power point presentation slides see what is possible with professionally prepared templates. Arte and Ram from are experts offering a load of free advice on best practice business presentation. The link is to an exclusive interview on crafting your message and visual aids (slides) to meet your audience's needs effectively.

Resources especially for non-native English speakers
Sometimes I get emails asking for help with business speaking from non-native English speaking readers.

Check this site Talking Business . It's a branch of UK's BBC offering assistance for dealing with meetings, making telephone calls, presentations, and negotiations. You'll find language and phrases to help you improve your spoken communication skills, with audio.

If you need help to improve your pronunciation of spoken American English check this interview on with Mandy Egle from the Seattle Learning Academy. Mandy is a fully qualified tutor and offers many free downloadable resources, including valuable audio files.

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Help! I'm an introvert and I have to make a speech

Hello, my name is Susan and I'm an introvert. That's not shy, but introverted.

There is a difference. Shy implies anxiety for instance around meeting people, ('what if they don't like me?'), about ability, ('what if I'm not good enough?'), about appearance, ('what if I've got the dress code wrong and I'm the only one wearing a bright orange Hawaiian print shirt?'), about anything at all.

Introversion is more about the way you meet and process information or stimuli. Do you want to take it slowly - to look, weigh up and consider or do you leap straight in right now, right away? Yeehhaaa!

Some people can be shy as well as introverted. While that was true of me, it's less so these days. Fortunately the shy component has diminished as I've got older.

(If you're interested there's a good article here discussing introversion v shy in children.)

What's stayed the same is my natural disposition - introversion rather than extroversion. It's not less than, or better than extroversion but it is, what it is.

And with that comes a bunch of characteristics that at first glance don't align themselves easily with public speaking, frequently thought of as innate in the extrovert's bag of tricks.

  • preferring one-to-one or one-to-a few social interactions
  • wanting/needing time to prepare, to think, far from the maddening crowd
  • becoming overwhelmed and sapped by too much stimulation at once
  • genuinely liking being by myself

What can a natural introvert do to speak comfortably, authentically and with minimum stress?

Here's a guide to public speaking for introverted and shy people by Jonathan Coleman with strategies and suggestions for staying true to yourself while speaking to the best of your ability. His direct honesty, practical tips on conference speaking and story telling make compelling reading.

As he says:
"So if you’re shy or introverted and you think that there’s something wrong with you — something broken that you just can’t seem to fix — you’re wrong. There’s nothing wrong with you at all. You are perfect, just as you are, and you’re ready to work your way up to the stage."

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Practicing for success

I never practice. I want my speech to be spontaneous.
I'm all about being in the now.
I want to come across as real - authentic.

Rehearsal! It's often forgotten about or dismissed as something for perfection seeking control freaks - something not worry about. After all if you've written or prepared your speech presentation, you're done, right?

Wrong. A prepared speech needs live testing. Reading the notes or running it through in your head doesn't do it. A potential chasm lurks between what you imagine in the safety of your mind and reality. The only way to avoid falling into it is to rehearse - to practice.

Notes only become a speech when they are spoken. Words on paper are half a speech. It is completed, made whole, through delivery and it's delivery (how you say your words, what you do while you are saying them), that can make the difference between an effective and successful presentation, and a poor one.

Practice will let you know:

  • if the content flows logically from point to point
  • if you've got smooth transitions between your major points
  • if you've got too much or too little to say for the time allowance
  • if your accompanying slides or other visual aids work as you intended

It will also allow you to:

  • experiment with gesture - where to, and what? Facial - a smile, a grimace? A wave of your hand?
  • play with movement - say this line from one side of the stage and move for the next?
  • look closely at your vocal variety - how should this line/word be said? Softly, loudly, quickly, slowly, a pause before it ...
  • fine tune the technical details - lighting, sound, screen, sight lines between you and the audience ...

A speech is dynamic - an interaction between yourself, the speaker, and your audience. To do more than 'go through the motions' practice is the only possible answer. There are no short cuts. The more you do, the better you will be.

Here's a 7 basic step-by-step rehearsal tips to take you safely from notes to stage.

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Thank you for reading the February Issue of Speaking-Out-Loud. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to contact me with any questions through the form at the foot of the Speaking Out Loud Page. I love hearing from my readers!

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Until next time,
Happy speaking,


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