Public Speaking Tip: The Three “B’s” to Present Effectively
by Allan Misch
“I have to give a presentation on my division’s new problem tracking system to the executive staff next week. I don’t know what I can say. I’m fairly new to the division and just learning about the system. My boss thought it would be a good opportunity for me to get some visibility and learn about the system. They’ll think I’m incompetent. I hate giving any presentation. It turns my stomach into knots.”
That’s part of what a coaching client, Dennis, said to me, and it got me thinking. Dennis lacked the Three “B’s.” If a speaker wants to present effectively, s/he must apply the Three “B’s.” — Be Fearless, Be Enthusiastic and Be Prepared.
Public speaking fear prevents skill development. It’s difficult to learn and apply basic, intermediate and advanced presentation skills when you’re mostly concerned about “getting through” the presentation without stammering uncontrollably, going completely blank or panicking.
Consider how a child develops its ability to run. First, it masters getting up on all “fours.” Then it learns to crawl. Feeling more confident, it stands up holding on to something. Next, it eventually lets go and teeters on both legs. Soon, it takes its first few steps. Then, it begins to walk. Finally, it picks up the pace and runs… and doesn’t stop running.
So you have to be able to crawl before you can run. In presenting, you have to be confident before your brain will let you concentrate fully on learning presentation skills such as how to use vocal variety, move with purpose and handle a microphone.
Public speaking fear also leaves a negative perception in the minds of your audience. This could be more devastating to your career then a lack of skill. A bad impression affects your credibility and ability to establish rapport. It puts you on the outside looking in, a place you don’t want to be at.
If you dread public speaking, discover what is causing your public speaking fear. Usually, it is caused by:
- a lack of presentation skills
- negative beliefs and expectations unrelated to presentation skills
- a combination of both.
The author James Baldwin said, “Fires can’t be made with dead embers.” You cannot convince or persuade anyone if your message lacks conviction and your presentation lacks enthusiasm.
My county council was holding hearings on rezoning farm land for residential development. An attorney for the developers testified. He was well organized and presented his clients’ case logically. But he delivered his presentation in a matter-of-fact tone. It lacked excitement and conviction.
Next, a farmer testified. He was nervous and not well organized. But he spoke with strong conviction, sincerity, passion and enthusiasm, urging the council not to rezone the land.
In the end, the council voted not to rezone. I’m sure his enthusiastic testimony had a positive effect on the outcome.
So if you don’t feel enthusiastic about your presentation, find some part of it that you can get excited about. Feel that excitement and let it permeate the rest of your presentation.
Speech preparation involves developing presentation skills. That’s your long term preparation goal. But speech preparation also involves learning your subject, gathering strategic information about your audience and their needs, organizing your briefing and practicing it.
Once you’ve replaced public speaking fear with confidence, excitement and enthusiasm about your presentation, speech preparation accounts for about 80 percent of your presentation. Delivery accounts for the rest.
Dennis lacked the Three “B’s.” He suffered from fears and anxieties that manifested as public speaking fear. He wasn’t enthusiastic about his upcoming speaking opportunity to leave a positive impression with his executive staff. And he was unprepared to give the briefing.
He convinced his boss to postpone the briefing. With focused coaching, he was able to conquer his public speaking fear and reduce his stress. He became enthusiastic about the opportunity his boss gave him, and prepared appropriately. His briefing was a success and led to greater confidence and skill as a presenter and leader.
So if you want to present effectively, apply the Three “B’s.” Be Fearless. Be Enthusiastic. And Be Prepared.