Uh oh, it’s happened again. You’ve been able to avoid it for the last 3 years. Now here it is again…the dreaded presentation. Ever been in one of these situations?
- You’ve been invited to make a key presentation at a Board of Directors meeting.
- Your dream job just opened up and you will need to interview for it.
- You have one single opportunity to have lunch with a prospective major account client.
- You have three months to prepare your 25th high school class reunion’s keynote address.
- You’ve been asked to fill in for a colleague in teaching a training session to senior management.
- Your company is in the peak of a crisis or incident and you need to speak about it live on television or on radio.
- You volunteered on a mission trip sponsored by a large company in your area and are now required to tell the mission story to large audiences as part of the sponsorship.
The list could go on indefinitely and you can probably cite many of your own examples. The common theme here is that YOU will be in the limelight and will need to communicate effectively, putting forth your best skills in the art of speaking. For a small percentage of the human race, this will be taken in stride and will be just another task in the course of your day. However, for the majority of us out there, these examples can create a host of reactions such as breaking out in a cold sweat, heart palpitations, nausea, lack of a voice, and an overwhelming desire to run and hide. All kidding aside, fears related to speaking in public, whether it be in a small or large group, have been said to be a fear greater than death for many. If indeed you are among those who shy away from any of these activities or view them as dreaded events, you’re in luck because there are many techniques that can ease your discomfort. So, try some of these on for size…maybe you’ll even volunteer next time!
Tips To Increase Your Confidence when speaking:
- Obtain as much information as possible about your audience and ensure that you know who they are and what their expectations are. Know what problems of theirs you can solve. Get to know what “pains” they have that you might address. Know what’s on their minds. Not only will you address what’s important to them, you’ll feel more confident and prepared.
- Prepare an outline or notes to organize the information you need to convey, so you stay on topic and within the allotted timeframe. Jot your notes on index cards and try to use them to prompt or cue you with main points. It’s important not to read them; speak from your heart and from your head.
- There’s just no substitute for practice. Practice not only helps you sound more convincing; it gives you greater confidence. Practice out loud, or even into a tape recorder, while standing in front of a mirror. Play the tape back and note what changes you want to make as well as what you did well. Then make another recording implementing the changes.
- Sound more credible and give a little “oomph” to your voice by planting your feet firmly into the ground whenever speaking (and especially during your practice).
- Scan your audience as you speak. Look for people who are nodding their heads and/or smiling. Return to them when you feel vulnerable. They already have let you know they like you and your message. Maintain eye contact with them and they’ll keep you feeling confident.
- Have easy access to a glass of water, and take small sips to keep your throat and mouth lubricated when speaking for an extended period. Avoid caffeine. Stay away from dairy products and items with mayonnaise during the meal before your presentation as these may cause you to want to clear your throat while speaking.
- If you are speaking to more than 20 people, use a microphone. This will help you avoid vocal strain and shouting. It also helps the 20% of the population over the age of 55 with hearing impairments who might be in your audience.
- Always face your audience. Don’t turn away to read from your projected slides. Whenever you turn you distract your audience and risk them not hearing or understanding you.
- Walk purposefully. Don’t pace the width of the audience. Use movements sparingly to support your message.
- Make your message memorable by varying the pitch of your voice, the rate of your speech, and your vocal volume. These adjustments will emphasize a key point you’re trying to convey. Holding the listener’s attention is essential and often this is a function of how you say something vs. what you are saying.
So, whether you’re interacting with someone one on one, providing training, participating in a small meeting or making a public speaking presentation, speaking confidently is one of the most powerful tools. Remember that effective communication is at the heart of professional, organizational and personal success. You can get yourself on the road to speaking to others with Vocal Charisma™