PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

You are at a fundraiser for cancer research.

One of the speakers is talking about the devastating nature of cancer.  This person describes the terrible consequences and then moves into a story about the final days of a loved one.  Thirty seconds into the story the speaker is suddenly seized by emotion and can’t continue.  

You and your fellow audience members are empathetic and touched by the emotion, but the speaker is shaken and embarrassed.  Also, important points the speaker wanted to make are left unmade.

I’ve observed several of these emotional breakdowns over the years.  Inevitably, the speakers have said afterward that they didn’t see it coming.  They had practiced their talks without incident.  Yet, when they started telling their story to an actual audience, emotions welled up and overcame them.

Sometimes, this can happen because they did not specifically practice the story.  They practiced all the other content of their speech, but they were confident the story itself was dependably memorable.  This left them unaware of how emotionally explosive certain recollections would prove to be.

But even if they did practice the story, there is still the potential to be overwhelmed when the emotion of public speaking is added to the mix.  The anxiety of standing in front of an audience can meet up with powerful memories to cause an emotional perfect storm

Stories packed with emotion can be powerful additions to a speech but, like electricity, they need to be thoughtfully handled and respected.  They should be practiced to the point where they can be delivered with enough composure in reserve to handle the additional stress of public speaking.

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