Conversationally Speaking

"Would you like to say a few words?" How many of us dread that request? The thought of speaking off the cuff can terrify even veteran speakers. But what about the ability to give a prepared speech and sound natural?

As a speech coach, I see hundreds of people who are wedded to their words. Like Linus clutching his blanket, they won't let go of their script. The result can be a presentation that sounds canned, insincere, boring, and dispassionate. So how do you sound conversational?

Know your content cold. You may be reading word for word because you don't have a command of the material. To practice sounding conversational, choose a subject that you know very well.

Use bullet points. Once you have scripted your message, take each main point and create an outline. Under each main point, write a subpoint.

Memorize concepts, not words. To sound conversational, get the concept in your mind. Forget about stringing words together in perfect sequence. Actors are masters at memorizing words and delivering them naturally. Most of us fail miserably at that. If you forget a word, you will freeze. If you memorize the concept you can explain it in your own words, much like you would in a personal conversation. Each time you may say it differently. So what? Nobody will know the difference. The proof of the pudding is this: Did the message come across?

Build stories, analogies, and metaphors. Presenters are most natural when they are telling stories. Stories are visual with a built in sequence. You don't have to memorize words. You only need to recall the experience. By telling stories, and adding metaphors and analogies, you will find your passion. Watch how your new enthusiasm draws in your listeners.

Put yourself in the listener's shoes. How do you feel when a telemarketer calls you and reads a script? You wouldn't buy from that person. Why? They don't sound like they know the product if they have to read. And they sound dispassionate. That's what it's like for your audience when you read your speech.

Imagine speaking to one person. It's rare for a person to memorize words when speaking to one person. Instead of giving a speech to a group, imagine you are having a conversation with one person. You'll be amazed at how much more animated and natural you will sound.

Face your fear. Most people are afraid they will blank out. That's why they memorize and cling to the written word. And that fear usually manifests. A better idea is to plan your recovery. If you are afraid you will blank out by being conversational, have a back-up plan. Have some humorous lines you can whip out. Practice feeling comfortable with a dramatic silence. Have an audience exercise you can try.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and let go. The only way to know your content cold is to practice out loud and time yourself. When you get to a point where you are comfortable, stop rehearsing and let go. Get a good night's sleep. Let all that practice you did seep into your unconscious. You'll wake up feeling more confident.

The next time you have a presentation, remember it's just a conversation.

Copyright Diane DiResta 2005. All rights reserved.

Diane DiResta, President of DiResta Communications, Inc. is an International speaker, coach, and author of Knockout Presentations: How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch, and Pizzazz. To subscribe to Impact Player, a free online newsletter visit http://www.diresta.com.

In The News:

Coaching Professionals Bust 13 Common Public Speaking Myths  ForbesMany people are nervous about public speaking, especially if they don't have much experience. However, following the wrong tips can make your presentation ...
2019 resolutions to help with presentations and public speaking  Fast CompanyThe New Year is here, and you've probably already resolved to exercise more and cut down on the binge-watching TV as well as made plans to be a more ...
AIR programme encourages public speaking skills among students  The TribuneTheTribune: JALANDHAR: Students from as many as four government middle and primary schools of the district participated in a two-day programme, 'Road ...
Public Speaking Is No Longer a 'Soft Skill.' It's Your Key to Success in Any Field  Inc.Great persuaders have a competitive edge in the age of ideas.
Make Public Speaking Easier With This Free Voice-Controlled Teleprompter  LifehackerIf you're not used to public speaking, a teleprompter can be a useful tool to have in your arsenal. A teleprompter can help you keep your speech on track, and ...
Commentary: How to get over your fear and learn to speak up  Channel NewsAsiaPublic speaking is a core skill in the 21st century workplace, with most in jobs that require them to speak up, Financial Times' Emma Jacobs ...
Afraid of public speaking? Become a toastmaster  Financial TimesI read with interest Emma Jacobs' article “ How to overcome fear and make your voice heard in 2019” (December 31). I have one guaranteed solution to anyone ...
Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking for Less Than $20  EntrepreneurLearn how to engage audiences of all sizes with tips from a bestselling author and veteran actress.
Public Speaking, Part 1  Naperville Community TelevisionKim White welcomes public speaking experts for a lively discussion on how to be the most effective public speaker you can be.
Overcome your fear of public speaking and presenting with this complete $19 course  The Next WebThe vulnerability. The exposure. The fear. For many, there's no more anxiety-inducing, debilitating situation than knowing you're going to have to deliver a ...
Chamber offers public speaking presentation  Local News DigitalCOLUMBUS, Ind. – The Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce is offering tips on public speaking. Taking Care of Business, an instructional presentation on ...
The HeART of Public Speaking  BusinessWorld OnlineBy Raju Mandhyan. MANY A TIMES in my workshops on public speaking, sales, negotiations and other soft skills, I have stressed the importance of acutely ...
Talking Business with Lisa Clarken: Public speaking to showcase your business  Connaught TelegraphONE area where I struggled starting my own business was in public speaking, giving sales pitches and presentations. When you are nervous you tend to speak ...
A new start: Judy Murray on the 'baby Buddhist' who cured her terror of public speaking  The GuardianThe tennis coach had always found conferences intimidating – until a workshop on women in sport inspired her to step outside her comfort zone.
Make Public Speaking Your Super Power in the New Year  Thrive GlobalThe arrival of a new year provides a great opportunity to take on new challenges and address long-standing phobias. And for most of us, the fear of speaking in ...
Tallahassee City Commission makes major policy changes on public speaking, meetings, lobbying  Tallahassee.comTallahassee City Commission makes big changes in public speaking time and notice of land-use changes.
7 Powerful Presentation & Public Speaking Habits for 2019  Business 2 CommunityPresentation skills habits are easy to find and hard to break. The good ones are available to us all and we don't have to look to far too find them. Stephen R.
Can virtual reality cure my fear of public speaking?  Telegraph.co.ukFrom imagining the audience in their underwear to focusing on a spot at the back of the room, nervous public speakers have come up with no shortage of tricks ...
Non-profit helps injured veterans with public speaking  WCNC.comCHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte non-profit is working to give severely injured veterans back from war a new mission, by training them how to speak in public ...
Asplund talks about adding public speaking to curriculum  WGIL Radio NewsGalesburg District 205 Superintendent Dr. John Asplund reflected on the first half of the school year. Building off the success of the Great Galesburg Shake, ...
January Titan Talks features public speaking expert, local restauranteur  WCN (WestminsterCollege Network)NEW WILMINGTON, PA – Dr. Randy Richardson, Westminster College's visiting associate professor of communication studies, and Daniel Miller '95, director of ...
Greater Englewood Toastmasters Helps To Develop Public Speaking And Leadership Skills  The Chicago CitizenThe Greater Englewood Toastmasters Club hosts meetings twice a month in the Seventh District Police Station, 1438 W. 63rd St., in the community room where ...
Presidential debate: The art of speaking, the grammatical errors (1)  The Punch08163939335. The trio of Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye and Oby Ezekwesili gave a beautiful account of themselves during the presidential debate held on ...
Ignite Your Speaking Skills in 2019 With These 3 New Year's Resolutions  Inc.At Moxie we work with some of the best speakers in the world. And you want to know a secret? They're constantly trying to improve. Every year they set new ...
How to get over your fear and learn to speak up  Financial TimesPublic speaking is a core skill in the 21st century workplace.
Surprising Ways Kate Middleton Has Changed Since Marrying Prince William  The Cheat SheetShe hasn't been married that long, but Kate Middleton is a completely different person than she was before marrying into the royal family. Here's how the ...
The niche speaking industry  Manila BulletinCoaching individuals to become better speakers has become a niche business.
Rooney was speaking 'broken English' before US arrest, police report claims  Manchester Evening NewsOfficers at Dulles International Airport in Washington DC had trouble understanding the former United captain.
Legislature clerk, sergeant-at-arms suspended over 'flagrant overspending': report  CTV NewsB.C.'s legislative assembly clerk and sergeant-at-arms were suspended over allegations including "flagrant overspending," according to a lengthy report ...
Authentically American Podcast to Feature Inspiring Stories of Great Americans  Associated PressNASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan 22, 2019--Authentically American ®, a veteran-owned business that sells competitively priced premium apparel ...
Conquer Your Fear Of Public Speaking With These 5 Tips  ForbesPublic speaking is the single most difficult task in many people's professional lives, but it doesn't necessarily have to be this way. Use these five practical tips to ...
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Facts: Where Was He Born, When It Became a Federal Holiday  NewsweekOn Monday, people nationwide will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but it wasn't until 1983 that it became a federal holiday. Born on ...
How to be heard: the art of public speaking  The GuardianIn an age of blanket social media use, getting your voice across has never been more important or difficult. But what are the secrets of winning over your ...
Public Speaking Doesn't Have To Be So Scary  ForbesDiscover how to overcome your fear of speaking in front of a crowd.
Here's How To Get Better At Public Speaking  ForbesWhether you give a presentation at work or appear in interview with a group of people, you will have to do some form of public speaking at some point in your life ...
Suzy Welch: The fool-proof public speaking tip that will make you sound like a pro  CNBCPublic speaking can be frustrating, anxiety-producing, or, for some, downright terrifying. Bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch ...
Improve your confidence when speaking in public +tips+  Red BullPublic speeches are nothing to be afraid of; we've got some top tips from an experienced social entrepreneur to help you create and deliver the perfect talk to ...
You Can Learn to Enjoy Public Speaking. Here's How  Inc.This new mindset will help you have relax and have fun while presenting.
12 Public Speaking Tips To Make Your Speech More Impactful  Forbes NowThere are few more impactful ways to grow and enhance your personal brand than a public speaking engagement.
What Public Speaking Coaches Often Get Wrong  ForbesWe know public speaking is many individuals' greatest fear. And when people think of public speaking coaches, they often think of someone who will help them ...
These are the 4 reasons you suck at public speaking (and how to fix them)  Fast CompanyFrom not knowing your audience to rehearsing too much, chances are if public speaking makes you nervous you are likely making some of these mistakes.
8 simple ways great public speakers overcome their own fears to impress and inspire  CNBCA top American phobia is public speaking, but it is a teachable skill, writes Elle Kaplan. If you hate public speaking, build your confidence with these 8 tips.
What I Learned About Public Speaking From Starting My First Speaking Tour  EntrepreneurJust two months ago, I kicked off something I've never done before: a speaking tour. Based on my book Her Big Idea, my talk wrestles with big questions ...
Why Passion Beats Technique In Public Speaking  ForbesThe power of passion in public speaking beats the physical mechanics or technique of the speaker. The origin of a great speech is a strong desire to motivate or ...
Three simple ways to cure your dread of public speaking  LivemintPublic speaking is so stressful for so many people that it is routinely used as a stress manipulation in psychological studies.
For Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, the big question is ‘what’s next?’  Atlanta Journal ConstitutionIt's the question that Stacey Abrams has fielded at every media interview, every speaking appearance, every public event. And here, a few minutes into a ...
Wringing the Fear out of Public Speaking  EntrepreneurI am a public speaker and a book author. Many times, when traveling on business, I meet people on planes who, finding out what I do, say, “Oh, I could never do ...
How to Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking  Business News DailyPublic speaking is a nerve-wracking endeavor for many people. These tips will help you conquer your fear of public speaking and head into that presentation ...
Why Women Say No To Public Speaking  ForbesMost women don't turn down speaking opportunities because they are shy or reluctant to self-promote. They turn down speaking engagements in larger ...
Public Speaking Makeover: 5 Techniques To Transform Your Public Speaking  Above the LawTaking the time to try various ways to transform your public speaking is important.
This training helps you become a confident public speaker  Popular ScienceFor many of us, delivering a presentation to a packed house is a daunting prospect. But public speaking is one of the best ways to open career doors or sell your ...
Pelosi rejects Trump shutdown deal before president announces it  The GuardianDonald Trump forged ahead on Saturday and proposed a deal to end the US government shutdown, despite Democrats having rejected it before he began to ...
Five Important Tips To Ace Public Speaking  Youth IncorporatedA public speaking workshop identified that Public Speaking is comprised of 7% *Content*, 38% of your voice, and 55% of your body language.
Public speaking is no more than a confidence trick  Financial TimesThe Queen's 1947 Cape Town speech may not have been delivered live. Does it matter?
Don't Abolish In-Class Presentations, Teach Students To Enjoy Public Speaking  ForbesDuring a visit to the United Arab Emirates, I was invited to speak to college students to learn more about how the country is preparing the next generation for a ...
GOP lashes back after Bernie Sanders calls Trump a ‘racist’  JTA NewsWASHINGTON (JTA) — Sen. Bernie Sanders again called President Donald Trump a “racist,” drawing a rebuke from the Republican National Committee.
3 Tips for Public Speaking with Confidence, Even if You Don't Have Any  Inc.Find yourself in a cold sweat when standing in front of an audience? You're not alone. According to a Chapman University survey, public speaking remains one ...
Own Your Stage: Five Strategies For Overcoming Your Fear Of Public Speaking  ForbesTime and again, when asked what their biggest fear in life is, many people overwhelmingly list public speaking near or at the top of that list. If you're terrified or ...
Sandberg admits to Facebook stumbles, says 'we need to do better' after rough year  CNBCSpeaking at the DLD conference in Munich on Sunday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg outlines five things the social media company is focused on in 2019.
6 Easy Tips for Conquering Your Fear of Public Speaking (Infographic)  EntrepreneurEveryone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some of us might be great leaders, great teachers or great speakers. Others might know every aspect of ...
Five Secrets To Conquering Your Fear Of Public Speaking  Forbes NowYou've just been asked to give a speech in the foreseeable future. The mere thought makes your palms sweat, your heart race and your body tremble. You are ...
Conquer your public speaking fears  JAXenterErica Tanti explains how you can face your public speaking fears and communicate more efficiently for the more effective development success.
Conquer Your Fear Of Public Speaking: A Step-By-Step Guide  ForbesI used to be debilitatingly afraid of public speaking. I've talked about it on my blog before. In fifth grade, my dad forced me to run for student council president.
How to nail public speaking: The Chris Rock approach  Irish TimesHide your notes, channel your favourite comedian and never end with a Q&A.
Public Speaking: You're Doing It Wrong  Forbes NowThe four worst pieces of advice on public speaking, and what to do instead.
3 Public Speaking Tips You've Probably Never Thought About  Inc.Does the thought of public speaking make you break out into a cold sweat? These tips will help you ditch the fear and connect with your audience. ​
Trendy Talks: 7 Public Speaking Trends To Follow  Above the LawTimes are evolving, and to be a master at public speaking, you must evolve as well. Although it's important to have your own speaking style and learn the ...
Speak Up! 12 Steps To Your First Paid Speaking Engagement  Forbes NowThink you can work a crowd? Why not learn how to get paid for it. These 12 steps will help you land your first paid gig, so read carefully...
What science says about why public speaking is scary  NotedThere are plenty of reasons public speaking is so scary, but in the end, practice makes perfect.
27 Tips To Get Over Your Fear Of Public Speaking, According To Michelle Obama's Speechwriter  BustlePublic speaking can seem like a daunting feat for some. The ability to cleverly write and passionately deliver a speech implies a lot of subtle pressure, making it ...
The 31-year-old teacher who beat 30,000 people to become the world champion of public speaking explains exactly how she did it  Business InsiderRamona Smith, a 31-year-old teacher from Houston, won the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking competition on Saturday. Smith broke down ...
The high-school teacher who beat 30,000 people in the world public speaking championship explains how she went from beginner to champion in only 4 years  Business InsiderThe Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking, Ramona Smith, is a high-school teacher from Houston. Smith told Business Insider the various ways ...
The high-school teacher who beat 30,000 other people to become the world public speaking champion shares her best tip  Business InsiderToastmasters public speaking champion Ramona Smith has refined the art of the speech in the four years she's been competing. The biggest improvement she's ...
‘Ovation’ is a Powerful VR Public Speaking Sim Designed for Professional Training  Road to VRIn my years covering VR, I've seen several attempts at public speaking simulators, but Ovation, a new app released this week supporting the Rift and Vive, is by ...
The newest public-speaking world champion beat 30,000 other competitors by using a body-language trick she learned from a past winner  Business InsiderRamona Smith used an interesting body-language technique to win the Toastmasters annual public-speaking competition last month in Chicago.
Public speaking is scary and hard. Here's why you should do it anyway  QuartzMany students dread in-class presentations. After all, public speaking is Americans' number-one phobia, and when you're a student in middle school or high ...
Public Speaking Tips - How to Get Over Your Fear of Giving Speeches  MarieClaire.comMarie Claire's resident psychiatrist, Dr. Samantha Boardman, offers her best tips for feeling cool and confident before you have to give a speech or presentation, ...
'Speech Contest A Practical Learning Environment For Public Speaking'  New VisionBiggest News Source for News in Uganda and the East African Region ,Breaking news in Uganda and Daily news and the latest from Uganda.
Learn how to crush your fear of public speaking, plus other business skills with these online classes  MashableIf you can confidently go on stage and speak in front of a large group of people without feeling like you're going to throw up your guts, then congratulations, ...
5 Public-Speaking Tips From Seasoned Experts  EntrepreneurWhat are you most afraid of? If you're like most Americans, public speaking bothers you more than heights, bugs, snakes, enclosed spaces, flying, strangers, ...
Terrified of public speaking? Start with what you really want to say  The GuardianMost of us are afraid of oratory – and women's voices are judged particularly harshly. Could I conquer my fears with the help of a voice coach?
Overcome your fear of public speaking with this $19 online course  MashableLearning to be a better public speaker won't just help you get through a wedding speech or lead a presentation. It's a valuable life skill that can make you more ...
The speaker can overcome nerves with useful tips on public speaking  We Live SecurityPart 2 of the Occasional Orator offers the speaker at conferences many tips and tricks that can be used to make presentations smoother and help ease the ...
5 steps for beating impostor syndrome as a public speaker  Fast CompanyFeeling like a fraud compounds those other normal speaking jitters. But with practice, you can develop a speaking style that's authentically your own.
How To Become A Better Public Speaker  A PlusWe've gathered a few tips to help you shake some of those nerves and feel a little more confident next time you have to take the literal or figurative mic.
Break the mold: These 2 leaders want young people to go after their dreams — no matter the pushback  CNBCIn such a competitive world, it can be difficult to break the mold and stand out — especially when faced with obstacles and rejection. For two creative leaders ...
Four Public Speaking Myths To Stop Believing (And Tips From Actors To Use Instead)  Forbes NowThe thought of having to get up in front of a large group and speak or present can create a lot of fear and anxiety. But as a leader, it's important to be a great ...
4 Remarkable U.S. Presidents Shared This Public-Speaking Skill, Per Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin  ForbesPulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin says storytelling is a gift that sets great leaders apart.
Fortuna graduate excels in national FFA public speaking competition  Eureka Times StandardA Fortuna Union High School graduate, now in her first year at Harvard, placed second at the national level in the FFA Prepared Public Speaking competition.
Present with confidence using the hacks in this public speaking bundle  Boing BoingWhether you're set to give the toast at your best friend's wedding or a presentation at work, you'll be relying on those public speaking lessons you slept through ...
5 Tips To Improve Your Public Speaking Skills  Above the LawAs a lawyer, it is important to have great public speaking skills. Here are some helpful hints.
Ray Dalio, founder of the world's biggest hedge fund, sees a 'significant risk' of a possible US recession in 2020  CNBCRay Dalio, founder of the world's biggest hedge fund, warned on Tuesday of a "significant risk" of a U.S. recession in 2020. "It's going to be globally a slow up.
Public speaking is a skill all entrepreneurs should learn  The Australian Financial ReviewMost people need to learn to speak in public but if you're looking for business funding, it's essential.
A clinical psychologist shares the simple strategy she gives her clients to help them get better at public speaking  Business InsiderEllen Hendriksen says that many people fear they will look nervous or incompetent when public speaking — but this type of anxiety distorts your self-image.
5 Ways to Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking  HBR.org DailyWe all want to be fearless public speakers. We dream of confidently striding onto the stage to give a speech or presentation, breaking the ice with the perfect ...
The unexpected trick young managers need to use to master public-speaking  Chartered Management InstituteWhen it comes to public-speaking, it's not about what you say.
Get public speaking tips for overcoming fear with this class  MashableIf you clicked on this story, you probably have a paralyzing fear of public speaking. It's okay; you're not alone. Forbes once reported that 10 percent of people ...
Terrified of public speaking? Expert tips on how to conquer your fears  Irish TimesThe best way to impress an audience is with preparation and practice.
3 Steps to Book Your First Paid Speaking Gig  EntrepreneurYou may not realize this, but you have the knowledge, skills and expertise conferences and events would pay to utilize.
10 tips to help manage public speaking anxiety  Houston Business JournalSleepless nights, sweaty palms and an upset stomach are just some of the symptoms of public speaking anxiety that cause people to shy away from the stage.

Speech Coach?s Tips to Public Speaking Success

It is inevitable that at times during our careers or... Read More

Ten Tips on Speaking with Authority and Power

No matter how good you are as a presenter, there... Read More

15 Tips For Making A Great Speech

1. Listen to your internal dialog. 2. Visualize a positive... Read More

How VALUABLE is Your Speaking Topic?

What information can be used immediately by the audience and... Read More

For Speaking Ease, Forgive Your Younger Self

I love the Disney movie The Kid with Bruce Willis.... Read More

How to Use Public Speaking to Attract Clients

When Robert Middleton moved his marketing consulting practice, Action Plan... Read More

Public Speaking - How to Make Your Next Speech Count

Along with the opening two minutes of a speech, the... Read More

Timing - Why You Should Never Go Overtime with Your Presentation or Speech

In a conference setting, nothing annoys audiences more than talks... Read More

7 Sure Fire Ways To Overcome Stage Fright When Speaking Or Performing

Prayer or Meditation: If you're a believer you can pray... Read More

Be Brief!

Centuries ago great speakers often spoke two hours and more.... Read More

What Makes A Great Presenter?

Every day millions of people around the world make a... Read More

10 Tips for Better -- and Less Scary! -- Public Speaking

The fear of speaking in public is well-documented, often discussed,... Read More

The Top Four Ways To Get Audience Involvement In A Presentation

In the thousands of speeches I've heard very few presenters... Read More

12 Ways to be a Confident Public Speaker

Speak from your heart. If you believe in what you... Read More

Does Uptalk Make you Upchuck?

Uptalk is invading the work place and is reaching epidemic... Read More

Speaking Body Language

I observed an almost surreal event when I was a... Read More

Are You Talking the Talk?

"More learning occurs through emotion than through intellect" C.S. LewisEven... Read More

Presentation Skills Without PowerPoint

Can you identify what each of these actions or activities... Read More

Knowing Your Boundaries

While delivering a speech, it is clear that we will... Read More

A Quick Tip for Delivering a Great Speech

Does speaking in public leave you tongue-tied? Do you stumble... Read More

Speak With E?s Part 2

"Educate, Energize, Entertain, and provide an experience for your audience"1.... Read More

Speech Presenting - Seven Ways to Tailor Your Speech to the Audience

Every speech has an audience and every audience is different.... Read More

Is Information Delivery Instruction?

Do you work for one of those organisations whose "training"... Read More

Five Tired, Worn Out Speaking Cliches

The subject of public speaking is riddled with tired, worn... Read More

How to Gracefully Leave After a Seminar or Speech When Someone is Hogging Your Time!

Meeting planners know the value of meticulous planning. They are... Read More