Most of us know the number one fear in the U.S. is speaking in public, but do you know how to overcome that fear? Some valuable tips on how to do just that and more were part of Brenda Wise’s presentation at the Hampton Roads Chamber Education Series, “Presenting Magically” on March 14th.
Wise, a communicating wizard, has spent the last 36 years as a professional speaker, trainer, business consultant and entrepreneur and her ease in front of her audience, confidence on her topic, and engagement with the room showed her passion and expertise in teaching people to become master communicators.
Some of Wise’s practical “how-to’s” revolved around beliefs. Many people fear public speaking because they have learned to be fearful over the years. “Speaking is about exploring how to become flexible in your thinking and recognizing that fear is not serving you any longer,” she said. Wise turned some of those fears and assumptions about speaking into empowering beliefs of master communicators. Some tips included recognizing everyone has their own unique model of the world, being flexible and understanding there is no failure only feedback. “It is essential to respect another person’s model of the world. If you don’t get the right response from a person, be flexible enough to say it again. There is no resistant audience just inflexible communicators,” Wise said. “The best thing I can do as a business owner, entrepreneur and speaker is to be flexible, rigidity makes life a whole lot harder,” she added.
Wise emphasized the foundation of becoming an “exquisite communicator” is building a rapport immediately. She made a distinct effort to greet every single person who entered the room, moved around the room seamlessly engaging everyone in her instruction and taking care to interact with each audience member. She explained, “There are three important tips to gaining rapport; matching the behavior, thinking and energy level is an absolute pre-requisite to effective communication. Communication is not about words, it’s everything else that goes with it, including tonality and physiology. Words are just 7% of your communication.” She suggested matching someone’s physiology by mirroring their behaviors and their breathing. She explained the importance of knowing whether the person you are communicating with is a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner.
“How we are communicating to our audience is either shutting them down or encouraging them to communicate. It is not all about us, it’s about how we can serve others,” Wise said. She provided some ways to identify which type of information processor you are communicating with by explaining the importance of listening to their verbal predicates. For example, the visual learner will ask, “how does this look?” or say “I see the big picture.” The auditory learner may ask, “how does that sound to you?” of “is that clear?” The kinesthetic learner looks within themselves for answers and processing and may sometimes avoid eye contact. They may say, “I’m not sure how this feels” or “I don’t have a handle on this now.”
Some tips on combatting the fear of public speaking and presentation included, acknowledging the fear and letting it go, breathing for 5 to 10 minutes before your presentation, recognizing you are the only one who knows what you’re talking about and knowing that the audience is not going to do anything to you. “Eliminate those beliefs of fear and discomfort. Acknowledge the fear is real and it is not serving you,” she said. In an exercise where she asked the audience to close their eyes and focus on what they felt, she said, “If you imagine you are anything less than a magnificent, brilliant speaker and trainer, you let it go. The biggest way to eliminate fear on presenting a topic is to just dive into it, gaining all the knowledge and preparation necessary. Breathe beforehand, practice diction, and send out curiosity and energy of joy and fun. The fastest way to connect with your audience is the flow of energy.”
The audience left empowered to master these techniques and armed with knowledge and confidence to do so. The Hampton Roads Chamber means business and as an inspiring ignitor is proud to bring this education series to Hampton Roads.
The Chamber Education Series continues on April 25th with Susan Long-Molnar from Managing Communications as she presents “Communication Across Genders and Generations.”
Thank you to our sponsors: Presenting Sponsor, Southern Bank; Gold Sponsor, Managing Communications; Luncheon Sponsor, Bahama Breeze and Water Sponsor, Pure Paradise
Photo caption: Brenda Wise and Series Presenting from Southern Bank, Lauren LaBonte