Does the thought of public speaking send chills down your spine? I find it fascinating that most people would prefer to be in the coffin than to give the eulogy. Even some of the most seasoned business professionals go into fear mode when they are asked to speak in front of a large audience. Although I can’t solve all your speaking woes in this blog, I can give you some tips that will put you at ease and make you look and sound like a pro.
Develop a conversational tone with your audience. Don’t sound like a robot. Be natural. Good speakers and leaders are animated and relaxed.
Use a microphone if possible; otherwise increase your voice as much as possible without shouting. You want people in the back rows to hear you but you also want to look natural and comfortable.
Be aware of your body language. Turn your feet out to face different parts of your audience. Avoid swaying and pacing back and forth. Move with intention and use your hands to help animate your content, not detract from it.
Hold the remote or pen in your hand or put one hand in your pocket to maintain control and appear more confident. (guys-don’t jingle your change in your pocket)
Dress for your audience and location. If you are speaking to a casual crowd in the Midwest, skip the navy blue pinstripe suit. Instead, wear nice trousers, a button down skirt and maybe roll up your sleeves.
Men, if your environment is more formal and business focused, wear a navy or charcoal suit, white or light blue shirt and conservative tie. Women, wear a suit or dress and simple jewelry and makeup. Keep it fairly conservative. (The goal is to minimize any distractions. You want the audience focused on your message.)
Practice deep breathing right before you are ready to go. Pressing your forefinger and middle finger together behind your back a few times is an effective stress reliever.
Use a little humor, especially if you are having technical difficulties or something unexpected happens. You want to appear real.
Practice makes perfect. Practice in front of the mirror or video yourself. It’s the only way to see your self objectively.
Have fun and enjoy the process. Remember, your goal is to motivate and inspire your audience to take action to improve themseleves. You are providing them with a gift.