Corrections or additions?
Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 31, 2000. All rights
Molding a `Natural Speaker’
The great statesman and orator Winston Churchill was
like the average person in one respect — he got nervous in front
of large crowds. "He’s one of these people you’d think was a
speaker, a great orator, but he worked long and hard on his
says Maria Richard, a former radio broadcaster and public
coach who presents "The Seven Keys to Successful
at the Learning Studio on Tuesday, June 6, at 7 p.m. Call
Almost everyone dreads public speaking, says Richard, but there are
several techniques for overcoming stagefright and adding panache to
your delivery. Richard’s Sellersville-based company, Quality of Life
Training (215-258-1193), helps people do just that.
A graduate of the American Academy of Broadcasting in Philadelphia,
Class of 1979, Richard started her career as an announcer at a Top
40 rock station in North Carolina, but found a home in corporate
"You don’t start making money in radio until you hit the big
she says, "so I ended up doing corporate sales and training and
I’ve evolved into the programs I present now. There’s a lot of
and positive feedback."
Each student is asked to prepare a speech for each class and to
a public speaker they most admire. "It’s called modeling —
the idea behind it is that if you imitate somebody, those skills
your own," says Richard. "Students picture that person in
their mind, then picture that person on stage, finally they picture
themselves on stage giving that speech." Richard also teaches
her students tricks to winning an audience, borrowed largely from
neuro-linguistic programming techniques.
One of her specialities, however, is analyzing the way in which gender
relates to public presentation. Says Richards: "As one public
speaking coach once said, `When a man gets up to speak, people listen.
When a woman gets up to speak, people look, and if they like what
they see, they listen.’ It’s still very true that women are judged
Bad habits such as fidgeting or talking at light speed are universal
among men and women, but women tend to have their own eccentricities
— like standing with one knee bent, hip pressed out, rather than
with feet planted on the ground. "A lot of us do this
and it looks bad," says Richard. "Sometimes when women do
this they look like little girls. There’s something we talk about
called the posture of confidence. When your feet are on the ground
you look more confident."
Another universal bad habit, says Richard, is taking advice on public
speaking from amateurs. On Richard’s "Don’t" list:
think I first heard of that on the Brady Bunch," says Richard,
"but it’s still a cliche. First of all, with some of the audiences
that I’m in front of, that would be a scary thought. Secondly, there
are better ways to relax. Instead of picturing people in their
picture a friend in the audience."
"You never know when you might need them," says Richard.
notes does not say that you’re any less of a speaker — it just
says that you’re a professional speaker. I think if I didn’t have
them that’s when I really would draw a blank."
"The audience has a vested interest in you doing a good job,"
says Richard, "because often they’ve paid to see you and they
want to see you succeed."
— Melinda Sherwood
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.