Q: Do you have any tips for getting better enunciation, pronunciation and vocabulary in your speech?
A: One of the tips I give the news anchors I coach at CNN is to slow down. It gives people a chance to process what you're saying. When we speak too fast, we can give the impression that we're nervous or lack confidence. That may not be true. However, 'perception is reality'. So, to come across more clearly, speak slower. You'll sound more powerful and more in control. Use words that you're comfortable using. Don't risk experimenting with a word that you don't use in normal conversation.
Q: How do I relax and be myself when I'm in front of an audience and I'm nervous?
A: First, take a deep breath. It's the easiest way to change your physical state and it allows you a few seconds to relax. Then, don't be in a rush to start talking the minute you're in front of audience or when someone asks you a question. Count to three (which gives your brain a chance to engage) then start talking. Use brief pauses occasionally to give yourself a chance to gather your thoughts.
Q: How can I make sure I'm being professional and credible when I'm so focused on how I sound and what I'm saying?
A: If you're giving a speech, the people in the audience already assume you're credible. Their presence says they are there for the knowledge you have to share. It can be a hard thing for a speaker to grasp, but it's not about YOU, it's about the audience. What can you say that will make a difference in their lives after they hear you? Remember first and foremost that you're there to give.
We'll be doing another open question and answer call in October. Stay tuned for the details!