Fensholt Perera (The Francis Effect, 2006) offers a detailed guide on improving one’s public speaking performance.
Public speaking, while a necessary skill for many, can be a nerve-wracking experience. The author, a presentation consultant and coach, begins her book with evolutionary explanations of glossophobia (fear of public speaking). She then offers strategies to lessen the impact of nervousness, such as rehearsing, mingling, practicing diaphragmatic breathing, assuming a confident pose, and using affirmations such as “Anxiety is normal. I will do well even if I am uncomfortable.” In a section on presentation design, Fensholt Perera encourages readers to analyze what the speaker and the audience truly want. Presentations, she says, may be impromptu (without notes), scripted, or, most commonly, extemporaneous (with an outline, but not memorized), which she says “allows you to combine the benefits of preparation with those of a more natural, conversational, and flexible delivery.” She describes different presentation structures from the simple (compare and contrast) to the intricate (sales-related presentations); she also urges readers to choose their words wisely, reduce redundancies, and eliminate clichés, and she shares stylistic tips to make visual aids more effective. The third section advises readers on presentation delivery, pointing out that eye contact, posture, facial expressions, and gestures all factor into the audience’s perceptions, while lighting, lecterns, microphones, and teleprompters should facilitate, not distract. Overall, this detailed book is not for those looking for a quick fix for presentation problems, and it may overwhelm those who are already skittish about the idea of public speaking. However, it does provide practical, helpful pointers on such subjects as how to craft effective opening and closing statements, how to keep audiences engaged, and how to handle trick questions. At times, the instruction veers into highly specific scenarios, such as English-as-a-second-language presentations, that won’t apply to everyone, but it only goes to show how the author manages to cover all aspects of public speaking in this comprehensive book.
A meticulous, no-nonsense collection of strategies to ensure successful presentations.