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Public Speaking Pointers

As someone who speaks every day (sometimes even to other people!), I consider myself an expert on the subject of public speaking.  There are those of you who are easily frightened at the thought of speaking publicly, but I (as always) have solutions for you, the timid orator!  Far be it from me to let you suffer in vain!  With only a few pointers from me, you will become more confident, less nervous, and more attractive to the opposite sex.  That’s a guarantee!  (Not a guarantee.)

Here’s everything you need to blow your audience out of their shoes, socks, underthings, and possibly into the next county:

Practice in Front of a Mirror–Before you give that all-important presentation to the board, your manager, the President of the United States, or a potential future father-in-law (“Sir, I would like to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.  Of course I have the ring, and no, she’s not pregnant”), you must practice your speech to yourself in front of a mirror.  With text in hand, I order you to stand awkwardly in your bedroom and recite your information to yourself.  Honestly, I’ve never tried this myself.  Apparently, as the legend goes, if you practice in front of a mirror by yourself, the Speech Fairy comes in the night and plants magic speech beans in your inner ear canal (possibly through ear candle, which is the best way to put anything dangerously close to your brain), which springs up, blooms, and allows you to speak confidently in front of a crowd (with no mirror).

Dress For Success–When speaking in front of a large audience, say, a Public Speaking class in college, you should always exude an aire of confidence by the way you dress.  The rule of thumb is: dress a step above the occasion.  For instance, if you are speaking to a group of construction workers, a nice pair of slacks and a polo will serve you well.  If you are speaking before Congress, a tuxedo with tails and cummerbund is fitting.  If you are speaking to the typical audience of a Metallica concert, I’m not even sure you have to wear a shirt.  (Yes, I know I just offended every “rocker” by calling a “show” a “concert”.)  Finally, if you are giving an address to the president of your company, remember to wear clean, pressed suit pants and a “I ♥ My Boss” t-shirt.  Looks like someone’s getting a bonus!

Never say, “Um”–By saying “um”, you can literally kill your speech, drag it down a gravel road, and set it on fire.  Literally.  Do you know anyone who sounds intelligent saying “um”?  Would you feel good going into anesthesia hearing your heart surgeon say, “We’re going to, um. . . pry this guy’s, um. . . chest open and locate the, um  . . . what’s that called . . . blockage . . . and, um . . . fix it, um . . . without killing him . . .”?  See how ugly that looks when converted to text from Judaism?  When you say “um”, you are giving the audience a hint that you are:

–Nervous

–Unprepared

–Stupid

–Not Qualified to Perform Open-Heart Surgery

Imagine the Audience in Their Underwear–This technique is only for those who have mastered the previous steps.  Because of the exponentially increasing obesity rates, imagining your ever-ballooning audience in their undergarments can trigger an uncontrollable laughing fit.  Or, if you are creative enough to see the hairs coming out of your boss’s navel, a crying fit (thumb sucking included).  Use at your own risk.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Because I did.  Just now.  Like, um, 4 sentences ago.  See how silly I sounded?  Don’t say “um”.  Just a reminder.

Watch Your Gestures–You want people to pay attention to what you’re saying, not the flailing and quite possibly offensive motions you’re making with your appendages.  Did you know that everyday gestures we make are considered greatly offensive in foreign cultures?  For instance:

–Giving the “peace sign” is considered rude is Japan

–Biting your thumb and pulling it quickly from between your teeth is offensive in Italy

–Putting your hand out, making eye contact with your boss, extending only your middle finger, and yelling, “Moron!” will get you fired from your job in the United States

–Spinning in a circle and throwing creamed corn up in the air while speaking in Pig Latin is considered the highest offense to Regis Philbin

Eye Contact–One expert (namely, I asked my wife what she learned in speech class) informed me that eye contact is vital to connecting with your audience.  She warned me, however, that you are not to always stare directly into the eyes of your victims (audience), but you are to talk approximately 1 foot above their heads, and make eye contact occasionally.  That seems to make sense.  I know I sure hate it when I get pulled into a staring contest by some orator.  Especially that guy who gave his speech while looking back at me from the other side of the mirror.

Know Your Audience–Keep the creamed corn at home if you know you’re going to be on “Live with Regis and Kelly”.  That’s just one example of Knowing Your Audience.  For instance, if you are giving a presentation to professional clowns, it is very rude to show up without oversized shoes on.  Likewise, if you are campaigning to be President of the United States and speaking in front of Union workers, you’d darn well better be wearing a tacky shirt and have those sleeves rolled up (even though those guys know you’ve never worked an honest day in your life), or else the I.E.W. 405 will string you from the rafters with 8-gauge wire.

I hope this helps!  If your next speech isn’t the best you’ve ever given, I will personally refund you the purchase price of reading this post.

By the way, this is my 25th post here on the Kyle Baxter Project.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I have.  If you haven’t yet, go back to my very first post (in October 2008), and start from the humble beginnings.  Thanks for your time and continued loyalty!

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