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Don't Worry Be Happy
by Barbara Rocha

Do you worry you’re going to forget your speech-just blank out? Do you spend hours thinking about what words you’re going to use and hope you’ll remember them? Do you wonder why you’re the one who has to give this speech?

Your speaking will get easier when you give up all those thoughts. The more you worry, the harder it is to do well. This speech isn’t about whether you do a good job; it’s about helping your audience and filling a need they have. Even if your message was assigned by your boss, if you’re not filling their needs, you’re wasting your (and their) time.

It’s also not about impressing them. It’s about meeting your audience’s needs. Am I repeating myself?

Interestingly enough, it’s not as much about communicating information as you might think, either. If you want to transmit information, write it, don’t say it. Writing presents details more efficiently, can be filed for reference, and can be focused on without regard to the speaker’s style.

If they feel confident that you’re credible you’re 90% of the way to a successful presentation, never mind how specific the information is. Reassure your audience (by connecting with them) that the project is in good hands, that they are on the right track, and that they don’t have to recheck your work.

If you think it’s about information, keeping your job, or people liking you, you’ll focus on your words rather than your ideas. You’ll focus on your notes rather than your message. And the result? Wooden, mechanical delivery. No connection with the audience. Incomplete communication.

Connect with your audience as fellow human beings, not as empty business suits. They have lives. They are human. Connecting with them helps them hear your message. And that’s why you’re there.

Sir Colin Marshall, former president of British Airways: “What is the essential element any successful leader absolutely must have? It can be reduced to one word, and a rather simple one at that: caring.” Substitute the word “speaker” for “leader” and it’s still true. “They need to know you care before they care about what you know.”