Since 1912, more than five hundred thousand men and women have been members of Dale Carnegie’s public speaking course. Many of them have written statements telling why they enrolled for this training and what they hoped to obtain from it.
While the phraseology varied, the central desire in these letters—the basic “want” from the vast majority—remained surprisingly the same:
“When I am called upon to stand up and speak, I become so self-conscious, so frightened, that I can’t think clearly, can’t concentrate, can’t remember what I had intended to say. I want to gain self-confidence, poise, and the ability to think on my feet. I want to get my thoughts together in logical order and I want to be able to say my say clearly and convincingly before a business or club group or audience.”
It is that type of confidence and self-assured attitude that Dale Carnegie Training programs deliver. Dale Carnegie lists four essential things we all need to get the most out of our efforts to become good public speakers:
Start with a Strong and Persistent Desire — Go after your subject with persistence, and with the energy of a bulldog after a cat. Arouse your enthusiasm and think of what additional self-confidence and the ability to talk more convincingly in public will mean to you socially and in terms of dollars and cents.
Know Thoroughly What You Are Going to Talk About — Unless a person has thought out and planned his talk and knows what he is going to say, he can’t feel very comfortable when he faces his auditors. He is like the blind leading the blind. Don’t speak until you are sure you have something to say, and know just what it is; then say it, and sit down.
Act Confident — To develop courage when you are facing an audience, act as if you already have it. Step out briskly and take a deep breath. Don’t fidget and don’t hide behind furniture. Draw yourself up to your full height, look your audience straight in the eyes, and begin to talk as confidently as if every one of them owed you money.
Practice, Practice, Practice! — The first way, the last way, and the never-failing way to develop self-confidence in speaking is—to speak. Choose a subject on which you have some knowledge, and construct a three-minute talk. Practice the talk by yourself a number of times. Then give it, if possible, to the group for whom it is intended, or before a group of friends, putting into the effort all your force and power.
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