Smile when you say that � The Faker

By Santa Barbara Associates on Sep 18, 2014 at 12:56 PM in Santa Barbara

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Chicago Tribune

Smile when you say that — The Faker

Chicago Tribune — Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Faker likes to think he has a way with words. But when he had to give the best man’s speech at his brother’s wedding … it could have been the martinis, but the room spun a couple of times. Once bitten, twice shy: Should his brother get married again (he’s hoping the third time is indeed the charm), the Faker will be ready with a great fake, with a little help from Lisa Braithwaite, a public speaking coach based in Santa Barbara, Calif. The key? Preparation.

“That’s my Number 1 thing,” Braithwaite said. “If you don’t take time to prepare, you’re telling your audience you don’t care about them.” The Faker’s advice? If there’s even a remote chance you’ll be called upon to make a few remarks at a gathering, have a little speech up your sleeve. Just as a little insurance policy. And note that imagining your audience naked is not especially helpful, particularly in a room full of bridesmaids.

“Imagining the audience naked takes a lot of extra energy,” Braithwaite says. “When you’re onstage you need to be conscious and aware of what’s happening.”

How to pull it off

1. Memorize your opening. “If you know exactly what you’re going to say and nail it, it sets the stage for the rest of your presentation,” Braithwaite says. “I encourage something that grabs their attention, something intriguing” and maybe counter-intuitive, she says.

2. Start with a smile. It sounds simple, but nerves make it easy to overlook. “You don’t have to keep it pasted on your face, but a smile puts the audience at ease,” Braithwaite says. “When you smile, it says, ‘I’m happy,’ even if you’re faking it.”

3. Try a relaxation exercise. Clench your fists into a ball for a second, then release. Do the same thing with your feet. Take two or three deep, measured breaths. “It releases tension and won’t be obvious to anyone around you,” Braithwaite says.

4. Be honest. “If you get lost and need to go back and find your place, just say so,” Braithwaite says. “A person who is not afraid to make a mistake seems human, approachable and confident. If you hem and haw, you make yourself more nervous and the audience uncomfortable.”

5. End strong. Know what your last word is going to be in advance — and say it.

— Josh Noel, Tribune Newspapers