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Olympics Presenter Shares Tips for Public Speaking

March 09, 2012 11:12

Rah Seung-yun, better known as Theresa Rah, who became popular for her pitch before the International Olympic Committee in favor of Pyeongchang as the venue for the 2018 Winter Olympics, has some simple advice for those who want to hone their English-language presentation skills.

"Don't be shy and clearly stress the words you want to accentuate," she said. "In English, intonation and rhythm are more important than in Korean, so clear stress and pausing at the right moment can significantly boost your impact."

Rah's skills result from 15 years of training and experience. She worked as a reporter and presenter for English-language broadcaster Arirang TV for seven years and in 2003 started her own company Oratio, which offers public speaking training.

Recently she compiled her knowhow in a book modestly titled "Rah Seung-yun's Presentation That Moved the World." "Presentations are now very common in the workplace,” she said. "I wanted to tell others about the skills I've learned."

As a student, Rah recalls, she was afraid of public speaking but gained confidence after joining an English conversation club when she attended Ewha Womans University.

"Flawless preparation is the key to a successful presentation," Rah said. This includes gauging the characteristics of the audience, assessing the context, wearing the right clothes, honing the theme to engage the audience and sprinkling in personal experiences to win their hearts. She claims presentations in the morning should be cheerful and buoyant, after lunch sprinkled with humor to keep the audience awake, and in the evening smooth and leisurely.

Practice makes perfect. She advises people to record their presentations and listen to them to fix weak points, and to rehearse in front of an objective evaluator. There are no shortcuts to practice. Rah lived abroad for 12 years when she was young, but she says she still reads books and the news aloud for 15 minutes a day to keep her English speaking skills sharp.

So what should you do if you still get butterflies in your stomach? "Sometimes I think that we get tense because we think too much about ourselves," Rah said. "We become too worried about looking like an idiot in front of everyone or making some ridiculous mistake. But when you think less about yourself and more about how to make the audience happier and to engage them, those fears disappear."

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