Have you ever been at a loss for words?
For example, when asked a question, have you been tongue tied in a sales presentation, while speaking at an event, in negotiations, during an interview or a staff meeting?
Getting tongue-tied is not a fun experience. However, good business communication is essential for success in your career. That includes being able to speak with credibility while thinking on your feet – to speak extemporaneously – on the spur of the moment.
Well, the good news is that it’s possible to master the art — whether for shy people, those lacking enough confidence or just about anybody who gets nervous speaking in a group setting.
To speak well extemporaneously, here are strategies that will work for you:
1. Don’t give away your power in pressure situations.
Feeling pressure is one thing but allowing it to morph into stress and tension is another. When you allow this to happen, in a sense, you’re giving away your personal power, which inhibits your performance.
Learn how your can train yourself to stop stressing.
2. Get confidence by improving your communication with others.
Even shy people marginalize others without knowing it or communicate with sarcasm. Note the Greek word for sarcasm, sarkasmos, means to “tear flesh.”
Don’t be defensive by explaining yourself or justify your existence when criticized, or complain or blame others.
Make certain you’ve mastered basic skills in communication with others. Start an affirmation list, e.g. “I am great at thinking on my feet,” or “I’m a terrific extemporaneous speaker.” Repeat them in front of a mirror until you achieve your goal.
3. Sharpen your listening skills.
The first step in making certain you respond appropriately is to listen carefully – very carefully. Maintain good eye contact and, if necessary, ask the individual to repeat the question. Or you restate the question and ask the person if your impression is correct.
This will help you if you need to buy some time before responding, and it also shows you take the person seriously.
4. Use good breathing techniques.
Breathe slow and deep. By managing your breathing, you’ll control your nervousness.
The first step in making certain you respond appropriately is to listen carefully – very carefully.
5. Practice public speaking.
Identify opportunities to speak outside business. Volunteer in charitable organizations or join your local Toastmasters’ group. Speak at every opportunity.
Practice your speech in front of a mirror and when possible videotape yourself for critiquing.
6. When asked a question in giving a speech without appearing to dodge it, delay your answer.
One technique is to compliment the questioner for the question, and ask the audience to comment. Then, give your answer.
If the question is a disruption to your thought process or speech, it’s OK to offer to answer the question in detail later. If you don’t know the answer, offer to contact the person later at a specific time. Keep your commitment.
Either is an act of professionalism, not weakness.
7. Before attending such an events, prepare by doing your homework.
Become an expert on the subject, if you’re not already one. By fully understanding your subject, you will give better answers.
From the Coach’s Corner, here are more speaking tips:
How to Get More Opportunities as a Guest Speaker – If you’re successful in generating speaking opportunities, you’ll create opportunities for your career. At the least, you’ll be in a position to raise your business profile. Ideally, prospective clients or customers will be in the audience. Count on opportunities to develop centers of influence — people who can refer business to you.
9 Tips to Connect with People after You Make Your Speech – Typically, in making a speech at a public forum, businesspeople hope to get a return on their investment. After all, giving a great speech or serving on a panel before a targeted audience necessitates your valuable time and effort in preparation.
How to Obtain the Most Profit from Speaking Opportunities –It’s one thing to be invited to speak at your industry’s major event. But it’s another to create the right impression for your hosts, your audience and prospective customers or clients.
Public Speaking Tips – for Speeches in Accepting Awards, Honors – So you’re about to be honored for your pro bono work, volunteerism, or for creating a foundation to fund scholarships for education. But you get stage fright or don’t know how to most-effectively frame your acceptance speech? Join the crowd.
Leadership Best Practices in Negotiations – 22 Dos, Don’ts – Leaders know that no matter what you need to negotiate, there are often easy strategies to get anything you want. Even in tough negotiations, you’ll want both parties to feel positive after the negotiation is complete. Emotional needs for both of you have to be met. Here’s how.
“Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so.”