Public speaking skills for dummies – Alyson Connolly

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Public Speaking Skills For Dummies.

Welcome to Public Speaking Skills For Dummies!

If you’re thumbing through this book, you’ve probably seen a speech or two in your life that had a message that really affected you. Maybe it made you think on the way home in a way that made your brain feel good, as if it were exercising. The speaker gave you the feeling that you were involved.

The next day you woke up depressed. How could someone be so darn convincing with nothing on the lectern but a glass of water?

Most people think of public speaking as just that: a well-dressed person under a spotlight with one of those headset microphones that are reserved for someone who is speaking to hundreds or thousands. These people are the elite of the public speaking world — they’re the pros. But when you think of baseball, do you think only about the major leagues? Or do you have memories of playing as a youngster?

That’s more like how this book treats public speaking. In my view, public speaking happens anytime anyone is speaking publicly. For some, that fancy mic is the goal. For others, maybe the goal is getting the confidence to speak to a stranger at a party. Maybe the goal is to carry a long story to a group of friends all the way to what you know is a beautiful payoff at the end. Maybe you want to nail that interview. Or maybe you want to tell your boss what you really think about how things are being run — without falling over or sweating from your palms. I’m here to tell you, even if you do want to get under that spotlight, the problems you’ll face are the same whether you’re speaking to 2 people or 2,000.

How This Book Is Organized.

This book is laid out the same way that I teach my voice and speech classes. My workshops are 3–6 hours long. For individual one-on-one coaching, each session lasts an hour. The progression of learning is different for everyone. That’s why this book offers solutions for every problem that I commonly work with.

Do you lack confidence? Do negative thoughts manifest themselves and hinder your performance? What can you do to stop them?

For some, the problem is physical. Breath is a vitally important part of the process. We’ll dive into common breathing habits and issues and find out how to address them. Something else we’ll look at is how that stubborn old evolutionary fight, flight, or freeze response factors into performance anxiety. How can we get over such a natural function of our bodies?

We’re going to get into particulars, too. Reading a speech is more than just speaking: First you have put on your writer hat. Before my clients walk in the door, I ask them to have a speech ready to practice with. For many people, even if they’re pretty good at writing, their writing doesn’t sound like them. It should. We’ll delve into crafting your speech before you have to give it.

Once that speech is written, how do you lift it from the page? You can use devices like punctuation and all kind of markups to show how you want to say it, but not everything can be indicated on paper. We’ll work on tone and pitch, when to get quiet, what raising your voice does, and how to do it effectively.

Then we’ll try to put it all together. We’ll talk about the resonance of your voice and how that affects your message.

About the Author.

Alyson Connolly, BFA, MFA, is a voice and public speaking coach and an expert in helping people overcome the anxiety of public presentations. She has built her career consulting with some of the top executives in Canada as well as up-and-coming business people trying to build their brand.

She received a master’s degree in theater voice pedagogy from the University of Alberta in Canada. Her thesis was “Alleviating Performance Anxiety in Public Presenters.” She offers her Painless Public Speaking Workshops and Elite Presentation Skills Master Classes to organizations and also coaches individuals one-on-one. She works with speakers who are good but want to be great, those whose accents get in the way of their clarity, and those who would rather die than speak in public.

Alyson began her career as a professional actor on the stages of Western Canada after earning her BFA in acting at the University of Alberta. She brings to her work 30 years of experience teaching drama, directing plays and musicals, and performing onstage. She is also a keynote speaker herself, presenting the story of her life through a difficult childhood to overcoming her fear onstage, as well as speaking about public speaking.

Her website is On Twitter she’s @alysonjconnolly, and on Facebook she’s Alyson Connolly Voice and Public Speaking Coach.

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