Public speaking is one of the most feared things on the planet. You probably knew this because maybe you’ve experienced the same jitters (or death-gripping fear) on a stage or in front of an audience before. If you are in an industry that doesn’t require some form of public speaking then maybe you can apply some of these tips to networking (which is one of the most important skills to have).
- When writing the speech or message it is a good idea to allow 5-10 days to prepare. Do research on your topic (statistics, case studies, updates in your industry, etc.). Many people fear public speaking because they feel like their audience will know more about the topic than they do. So prepare and get comfortable with what you are presenting – that’s half the battle.
- Know your audience. Try to mirror their mood (or start where their mood is and build them up to a more exciting place), language (or slang terms they use), etc. And hey, worse come to worse – fake it ‘til you make it!
- Don’t get caught up in the idea of public speaking (being in front of a huge, judgmental audience, etc.). You were asked to give the message for a reason, right? Have confidence in the fact that you are on stage to train – not be judged.
- Prepare an outline. I’ve known people that write out their whole talk word-for-word. Some of the best speakers I’ve seen were presenters that didn’t read their PowerPoint slide or notes during the entire presentation. They loosened up and slipped in a joke here and there, which made it a lot more enjoyable for me!
- Start with a strong opening. Think about what would grab your listener’s attention – you want to lock them in right away so they follow you from beginning to end. If not, you’ll get less and less eye contact which will make you more and more uncomfortable. Some will start with a joke or a dramatic story. Follow YOUR style and personality, NOT other presenters you’ve seen.
- Have key points throughout your talk. People love lists like “The top 3 ways to achieve financial success”. It makes your material easy to digest and better for note-taking.
- Distill your content in as few words as possible – rambling will only have your listener’s mind stray. Always stay on time!
- Your appearance is important – if you look like you take good care of yourself, people will naturally feel like you are there to take care of them by providing top-notch information.
- Always look for new material to make it interesting – Magazines, newspapers, motivational books, billboards – ANYWHERE!
- End with a powerful and motivating close – leave them wanting more through a powerful story of someone who implemented similar strategies and saw success.
Those are some tips and techniques that have helped me tremendously in the past. Hopefully, they can help you feel more prepared, more accepted – and less fearful.
What strategies do you have to make speaking more comfortable?