Do you need to do any standing in front of a gathering of people to speak on a subject? Most of us get nervous when becoming the focus of attention in this setting. Perhaps your boss has asked you to speak a “few words” on a topic at an upcoming company meeting. Maybe you are starting up a business of your own and need to network. Whatever the reason, public speaking is an opportunity for you to advance your career or grow your business. Here are five tips that you can use to alleviate your fear when you present at a meeting or event.
1 – PREPARATION
Nothing is more important in public speaking than preparation. Preparation includes:
MATERIAL – If you do not plan to succeed you are planning to fail. If you are not already well-versed on the subject, research it. If you are well-versed on the subject, break it down to its simplest components so it can be easily understood.
TIMING – Most meeting and network presentations are short 10-15 minutes. This actually works to your advantage. Concentrate on the most important thing you want to say and you wont bore the audience. For a 10 minute presentation take the first 2 minutes and use it to tell your audience something about yourself. Keep it light and interesting. Telling them a little bit about yourself helps build rapport. It will help you to feel more comfortable standing up there.
The next 6 minutes should be your subject matter. Don’t be afraid to refer to notes if you need to, but do not read a scripted speech. Having 4 or 5 bullet points on an index card is a good way to keep on track. A glance is all that is needed to remind you of subject matter.
The last 2 minutes can be dedicated as a question and answer period. If someone asks a question you do not know the answer to DO NOT FAKE IT! If you don’t know the answer, simply tell them you will get back to them with that information. THEN FOLLOW UP and do as you promised. Your credibility here is all important.
2 – DRESS FOR CONFIDENCE
To dress for confidence you dress for your own confidence, not to impress the audience. If you normally dress in an open collar shirt, dressing in a suit and tie may only make you more uncomfortable. Subconsciously it tells you that you are out of your element. Dress like you would if you are meeting with a client or customer you want to get money from for an idea or product.
3 – LCD The Lowest Common Denominator
If you try and cram too much information in when public speaking you will drown out your own message. Most people have a short attention span so if you sell 2 or 100 items, just pick one to concentrate on. You will be providing more information on that item to pique the interest of your audience. If that seems too difficult then zoom in on a process or method. This can show them how reliable or different you are from your competition.
4 – PRACTICE – PRACTICE – PRACTICE
Practice does not mean memorizing a speech. It means being familiar with the material, equipment, devices or audio/visual aids and becoming comfortable with the flow of your information. It also means being prepared to go on when something goes wrong.
I once did a presentation for a local group. They asked me if I was going to use PowerPoint because they had a big screen. This was great because I needed my PowerPoint to help guide me through my presentation. Unfortunately their set up and my equipment were not compatible and I could not use it. Although it would have been better if I could have displayed the presentation on the big screen, I had a tablet with me and that had my PowerPoint on it. I was able to set it on the podium and use it for my guide. It went well, but imagine if I could not go on with this public speaking event without the equipment which was expected. I would have lost all credibility and an opportunity to gain clients.
PRACTICE SPEAKING LOUDLY – Many people have a tendency to mumble and speak softly whenever they get up in front of others. This is because they hear themselves clearly in their own head internally. It is also because of a feeling that if they speak loudly they won’t be able to take back an incorrect word or phrase. If your audience has older attendees you can bet that some of them will be hard of hearing. So… speak slowly and succinctly. That means pronouncing the hard consonants like “t” and making sure there is no misunderstanding between “m” and “n”. Because you know what you are about to say you internally hear these sounds clearly, but your audience may not anticipate the word and therefore may not hear it correctly. By speaking slowly and succinctly your public speaking will be that much better than so many others.
PRACTICE MOVEMENTS – As a theatrical director, I can tell you that pacing back and forth does not make your presentation any better. If your pacing is too rapid or without purpose it will detract from what you are trying to say. It is O.K. to move when you are presenting, in fact, some movement is good because it can be engaging to your audience, but only do so because there is a purpose for it.
For example, let’s say you are speaking and you get the feeling movement would help keep attention on you. Try addressing an individual like you would in a one-on-one situation and walk over towards that person. Looking right at that person (but continuing to speak to the entire group) you can move towards them and then return to the center. You can repeat this action towards the other side of the room as well, just as long as you do not do it too frequently.
Basically you practice to become familiar with your presentation. Use a mirror, an open room, or at least internally imagine your presentation in your expected environment.
5 – FIND A FRIEND
Most of the time when your are presenting to a group, the group includes some people you know and who are friendly towards you. Use this to your advantage to lessen any anxiety you may have. Make eye contact with one of these friendly faces when you start your presentation. You can then move on to make eye contact with other friendly faces as they will become apparent while you are talking. Remember the people in room want you to do well… they are rooting for you. Making eye contact with them is a sign you respect them and it helps build rapport.
If you are speaking to a group where you do not know anyone, make sure you arrive a bit early so you can meet and develop a little rapport with someone who can serve as your friendly face in the crowd to start.
By using these 5 tips you can lessen your anxiety and present your services or products to more people in a more effective way. Building sales is about building rapport and trust first. If you don’t put yourself out there, no one will flock to your business or company. Advertising may tell people about your product or services, but only personal involvement will get them to trust you enough to spend their money.
HYPNOSIS FOR PUBLIC SPEAKING
If you have a lot of anxiety about speaking in front of others, don’t feel alone. Fear of public speaking is the number one fear for adults in the United States. Hypnosis can help you get past this fear so your presentations can be more effective. Call me today for a FREE strategy session at 936-537-5666Book Appointment