Margot Lester interviewed at SxSW

Telling people what you think can be daunting or counter-productive. Some of us feel stressed about speaking up. Others can't quite do it effectively. Here are some tips:

  1. Be cool. Even the most seasoned public speakers can feel a little anxious before going "on". The underwear technique made famous by The Brady Bunch can help, but I prefer simply taking a few deep breaths while visualizing myself speaking calmly and confidently. It seems basic, I know, but it really works!
  2. Skip the preamble. You've heard other people do it -- they provide a long introduction before actually getting to the meat of their position. Are you doing the same? One way to quit doing it is to write down just the most important things your audience needs to hear. I like to use the Idea-Details Strategy™:Teaching That Makes Sense's Idea-Details Strategy
  3. Avoid put-downs. Especially in charged situations, it can be easy to build up your argument by tearing down someone else's. Don't do it! Your good ideas can stand of their own merits, so present them devoid of snarkly comments about the views of others. If you feel the urge to put someone's idea down, pause for a moment and let it pass. It will feel longer to you than it does to your audience. [Tips for how not to provoke your audience]
  4. Anticipate questions. Think about questions your audience may have about your position and if you can address any of them directly in your presentation, do. If not, it's still worth taking a few minutes to prepare short answers so you're prepared if there's a question-and-answer period afterwards.
  5. Don't be attached to results. While you definitely want to have a purpose for speaking up -- what you want people to think, feel or do -- you can't be attached to the results. When you put too much energy into worry if people will do or think what you want them to takes energy away from actually presenting the idea confidently. It's not easy to develop this habit, but it's worth practicing. Periodically remind yourself that what's important is giving your audience the right details to make a good decision. This keeps your effort in the right place.

Good luck!

For more on how to share opinions, try the What-Why-How Strategy to layout your thoughts.

The Idea-Details & What-Why-How strategies © 1995-2012 TTMS, Inc.