Afraid of public speaking?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 10, 2014

Whether you’re a teacher, preacher, Libertarian or librarian, chances are at some point in your life you will be obligated to give a presentation.
Public speaking is required for all college students, and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s catalog says the purpose of the course is to enable students to “prepare and deliver well-organized speeches and participate in group discussion with appropriate audiovisual support.”
But how do we move beyond the minimum requirements of “well-organized” and “appropriate” to inspirational and memorable? How do we take a presentation from good to great?

Nervousness before a speech is common for most, but those with social phobia — or social anxiety disorder — experience a strong, persistent fear of being judged by others and of being embarrassed.
According to the National Institutes of Health, social phobia affects about 15 million American adults. Men and women are equally likely to develop the disorder, which typically begins in childhood. Social phobias are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication or both.
Assuming that you do not have a disorder, there are a number of ways you can relieve fears of public speaking.
“Natural Relief for Anxiety” provides practical advice and a holistic approach to easing your fears, panic and worry. For example, the book names caffeine as the worst dietary trigger of anxiety and recommends anyone prone to anxiety should reduce total consumption to less than 60 milligrams per day.
Another anxiety-busting book is “Living Fully with Shyness and Social Anxiety,” which covers such topics as eye contact, body language, goal setting and preparing for stressful social situations. Organized into three main sections — The Body, The Mind and Action — this thorough resource will appeal to anyone looking to shed unwanted anxiety and keep blushing at bay.
Once you get past initial stage fright, you can focus on turning a mediocre presentation into one that, at the very least, gets the grade, lands the job or wins the crowd. TED (Technology Entertainment Design) is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. In “Talk Like TED,” Carmine Gallo surmises that “ideas are the currency of the twenty-first century.”
To be successful, you must sell your ideas and yourself persuasively. Broken down into three digestible chunks, “Talk Like TED” offers practical advice with plenty of real-life examples.
“Secret #7: Stick to the 18-Minute Rule” asserts that 18 minutes is the ideal length of time for a presentation. According to researchers, too much information prevents successful transmission of ideas.
Following the simple yet effective secrets of “Talk Like TED” will have you inspiring without perspiring.
“As We Speak,” by Peter Meyers, offers a straightforward three-step approach that addresses content, delivery and state of mind. In addition to clear, concise advice, this book also offers supplementary tips for nonverbal communication and even points readers to downloadable audio exercises.
In addition to the books mentioned above, Rowan Public Library also offers access to more than 300 free instructor-led, online courses — “Mastering Public Speaking” and “Get Assertive!” to name a few.
All three library locations provide free access to computers and wi-fi, which allows you to visit sites like where you can see public speaking at its finest.
Part of our mission at Rowan Public Library is to inspire and empower you, whether that’s to give you access to inspiring presentations, or to help you prepare for your own. Stop by your local library location and let us help you take your presentation from good to great.
Summer movie series — The library offers movie night every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at RPL headquarters in Salisbury and at South Rowan Regional at 2 p.m. Wednesdays. Movies are free; all ages are welcome. Children should be accompanied by an adult. Free popcorn and lemonade.
At South Regional (China Grove): Tuesday, “The Andromeda Strain.” (PG).
Future Foods — Headquarters, Monday, 6:30 p.m., Stanback Auditorium. This will focus on the latest technologies for producing excellent quality fruits and vegetables. Some of the topics will include aquaponics, hydroponics, intensive production, high tunnels and grafting vegetables. It will be led by Danelle Cutting, local food and horticulture agent for the Rowan County Cooperative Extension.
Book Bites Club: South Regional (only), Aug. 26, 6:30 p.m., “The All-Girl Filling Station,” by Fannie Flagg. Book discussion groups for adults and children meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. Each meeting includes a discussion of the book and light refreshments. For more information, please call 704-216-8229.
Darrell Connor and the Country Music Legends Band — headquarters, Aug. 28, 7 p.m., Stanback Auditorium. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. His concert is part of the Cheerwine Music Hour, co-sponsored by Friends of Rowan Public Library. Please enter the Stanback Auditorium at the entrance near the historic Henderson Law Office.
Displays for August: headquarters, anime by Robert Clyde Allen; South, lunch boxes by Sharon Ross; East, flowers by Helen Holland.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.