5 Ways Positive Psychology Can Improve Your Public Speaking Overnight

5 Ways Positive Psychology Can Improve Your Public Speaking Overnight

By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP International Business Speaker

How can you quickly and efficiently improve your public speaking?

In fact, how can you do it overnight?

Attending an interesting presentation on Positive Sports Coaching (PSC) by Matthew Scholes (pictured above) at Christ Church Grammar School in Claremont, Perth Western Australia gave me an idea.

If teams and individuals coached using a positive psychology approach perform better, exhibit greater resilience and optimism resulting in improved sporting performance under pressure as well as greater mental well being, can this be applied to public speaking?

AFL team Geelong Football Club for example uses character as its primary recruitment criteria for all positions at the club - both playing and administration to create a culture of success.

This has enabled them to be one of the dominant AFL Clubs in recent years - winning three Premierships in five years.

OK I may be biased because my grandfather Jack Murrell played for Geelong in 1922 on the wing, but I believe the principles are universal.

These five principles can be applied to public speaking to improve your performance overnight.

1. Set Up
The set up is essential in public speaking.

When you face a threatening stimulus such as the fear of public speaking you get what in sports Matthew Scholes calls The Amygdala Hijack.

This is the primitive brain's fight or flight response to danger.

In this your brain shuts down and you just focus on the negative.

For example what can go wrong in a speech - rather than what goes right

People pay more attention to negative experiences.

You can overcome this fear in three ways.

This relates to practicing the set-up prior to your speech.

In sport this would relate to players training and then warming up and doing a set routine every time in their warm up - no matter how big the match is.

Your pre-speech set-up should include:

a) How the MC will introduce you - always give them a prepared script - never let them ad lib.
b) The room and stage set-up - always ensure the room and stage is set up how you want it.
c) How you enter the room and begin - this is critical that you rehearse and plan how you will enter the room and how you will begin your first seven seconds of a presentation. Always warm up your voice prior to any presentation using a set routine.

2. Structure.
Audiences crave structure.

Structure makes presenting easy.

Just like sports teams, those that implement a set structure are more successful.

The key is to have a structure that suits the nature of the presentation and to implement the structure when presenting.

It is about both finding the best structure for the context of the speech and implementation.

Positive speech presentation coaching can help in both areas.

For example, after the speech focus on what worked well (for example write down five areas that worked well in your last speech), deal with the negative, explain with an optimistic mindset and outline a to do strategy for your next speech.

3. Stories.
Stories connect with audiences at an emotional level.

Keep stories short because audiences have short attention spans.
Make sure your stories have a structure (story, point, benefit) and are well delivered with vocal variety (implementation).

Use relevance, currency, proximity, drama and consequence to choose your most impactful stories to customise for each audience.

4. Show - Don't Tell
Nothing is more convincing than a concrete example.

This could be an actual case study, research or dramatic story.

Specificity builds credibility.

Add detail to make it more real and believable.

5. Success = Talent + Desire + Optimism
Brain plasticity, the brain's natural ability to change, learn and rewire proves that public speaking is a learned skill.

I believe in the behavioral school of public speaking that shows that great speakers are made not born.

Great speakers do not possess some inbuilt gene for public speaking. They train and practice and rewire their brains.

They practice but they also fail. The more you practice the more you will rewire your brain for success.

Focus on your speaking strengths.

Any successful speaker can tell many war stories of failure.

It is the ability to bounce back from failure that is important.

It is important to have an optimistic mindset to become more resilient when faced with setbacks.

Keep up the things you do well. Pre-wire your brain for success.

Please consider Thomas as a keynote speaker, trainer, mentor or coach on how to use positive psychology to make you and your team better public speakers.

My next high level speech writing and speech building course in Perth is on August 6th 2013 from 0900 to 1230 at the Subiaco Arts Centre. Learn how you can get a $220 rebate for attending.

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