You might not think one of the world’s most successful businessmen (not to mention best-known billionaires) might suffer from nerves when speaking in front of an audience. But you’d be wrong. Here are three tips from Richard Branson on public speaking.
By Maria Tecce, ConfidentSpeak
Nerves and anxiety affect pretty much everyone at some point, whether you’re speaking to an audience of thousands or one-to-one in the board room.
Much of the time it is not a case of eradicating those feeling but managing them and mastering them.
Great presenters and speakers are not born, they are made, with hard work and preparation.
In a recent article, featured on Fortune.com, Richard Branson mentions Winston Churchill, author Gavin Maxwell, and Mark Twain as his own touchstones for successful public speaking.
Richard Branson on Public Speaking: Lesson from Gavin Maxwell
When you need to speak in front of a crowd, close your mind to the fact that you’re on a stage with hundreds of people watching you and instead imagine yourself in a situation where you’d be comfortable speaking to a group. For example, imagine that you’re in your dining room at home, telling a story to friends over dinner. I know it sounds a little corny, but try it. This trick has certainly removed some of the anxiety for me.
Richard Branson on Public Speaking: Lesson from Winston Churchill
Churchill … once said: “A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.” Take this advice to heart. Even highly gifted speakers like Churchill would never ask an audience to listen for more than 25 minutes or so. Extending a presentation beyond half an hour will stretch any group’s attention span.
Richard Branson on Public Speaking: Lesson from Mark Twain
Twain was aware of the common misperception that in order to be a great speechmaker, one must be good at speaking off the cuff. Twain addressed this in 1899 when, speaking at a dinner given in his honor at London’s Whitefriars Club, he said: “Impromptu speaking — that is a difficult thing . I used to begin about a week ahead, and write out my impromptu speech and get it by heart.”
Throughout the piece Branson talks about a couple of his best loved tricks to beat the jitters and where his inspiration comes from in handling those nerves.
And finally, remember the wise words of Soren Kierkegaard:
Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.
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ConfidentSpeak is a specialist S.T.E.M Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives at home and abroad. Contact us for details on our range of corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.