Public Speaking Doesn’t Have to be Scary
Sweaty palms, heavy breathing, that uncontrollable handshake you just can’t seem to get under control: these are a few signs of either too much caffeine consumption or pre-presentation nerves. For some, public speaking is a chore, while for others, it’s a breeze. Rather than picturing the audience in their underwear (which 9/10 times DOES NOT work), hone your skills with these 6 tips and tricks to hit a presentation home run.
#1: CONFIDENCE IS KEY
Confidence not cockiness: there’s a difference between the two. Expressed through body language, tone, behavior and speech, confidence is a trait those look up to and potentially crave. Whether you’re confident or not, you need to play the part. Here are a few ways to speak confidently:
- Project a strong, loud, clear voice
- Appear calm, cool and collected
- Stand tall (NO slouching)
- Remain open to questions and criticism
- NO fidgeting (causes distraction)
The most important tool in achieving confidence is remembering that you’re the expert! After all, you are the one standing on the platform. Think of your speech as a conversation, and less of a conference.
#2: DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Dress to impress, or in this case, dress for your audience. First impressions are everything. Although a suit and tie or evening dress may not be necessary, it’s better to be overdressed than under dressed. To look the part one should:
- Be well groomed
- Wear fitted clothing
- Dress in flattering colors
- Go Easy on the fragrances
- Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes
After all wouldn’t you rather your audience talk about your presentation than your appearance?
#3: PERSONALIZE YOUR SPEECH
Be creative, not a clone! There’s nothing worse than walking into a presentation identical to the last five you attended. Not only will you bore your crowd, your content won’t spread and the message won’t click. To help catch and keep your audience’s attention try to:
- Use personal/relatable references and examples
- Speak passionately from start to finish
- Engage the audience
- Use humor
#4: BE PREPARED
Trust me on this one, if you’re not prepared, your audience WILL know! Don’t do the last-minute scramble. It’s an unfortunate trend that needs to die. Rather than cause unnecessary stress for yourself and embarrassment aim to;
- Rehearse your material more than once
- Test on a small crowd (your family, friends, spouse, pet, etc.)
- Know your material like the back of your hand
- Limit the use of cue cards (preferably none)
- Bring back up (USB, disk, e-mail a copy to yourself, etc.)
- Know your platform
Get the energy in the audience amped. Rather than hold a snooze fest, you want hands to shoot up and participants on the edge of their seats. Unsure how to engage? Give your crowd a reason to listen. Try to encourage participation throughout, remaining as relevant as possible. Keep the crowd animated by taking votes, sharing stories and dishing out facts.
#6: LEAVE YOUR MARK
Don’t present for the sake of presenting. Leave your mark and make an impact. The purpose of your presentation is to perform and inform, and to ensure you leave your audience with something to take away and apply to their own life. Having an objective helps. Reiterate your points effectively by ingraining keywords into your audience’s mind. If you see nods, head shakes, or full focus, you know you’re doing something right.
The most important tidbit from this entire piece to remember is to open and close strong. Your opening should spark interest, while your closing should be just as strong and memorable. If you follow these tips and tidbits, I can assure you you’ll become a pro presenter in no time!