Public speaking. Even just saying the two words out loud can fill even the most outwardly confident person with fear and dread. But the truth is, the only person holding yourself back from being an absolute pro at public speaking is yourself. It’s all about passion, energy and most importantly, having trust in yourself.
Avoid the focus on powerpoint
Making eye-catching visuals to go with your presentation is obviously important – it can direct your point of conversation, and adds visual aids to where extra points need to be explained – but the main focal point should always be yourself. You are the one they are listening to. Plus, no one wants to sit through a boring speech with too many boring bullet points, graphs, and all that jargon. This is your time to shine, not the corny special effects of Powerpoint.
If in doubt, make em’ laugh
Everyone knows the back row is for the sleepers. And there is nothing more disheartening to see your audience nod off when you have put so much time and effort into what is now becoming background noise for a good old’ nap. Having a light-hearted voice and using tongue-in-cheek humor is sometimes key to ensuring people are engaged and attentive. But, of course, make sure your humor is tasteful and tailored to your audience.
Know what you’re talking about
Might be a rather obvious one, but if you know what you are talking about, totally inside-out, then there’s more chance your audience will too by the end. Do whatever it takes to ensure you’re a pro on what you’re talking about before you worry about being a pro at the speaking part. Practice in the mirror, record yourself, perform it to a friend first – there is plenty you can do. But be careful. Don’t make it seem like an over-practiced or scripted monologue – that’s when the sleepers will start to drift off!
Body language is key
Most people have a nervous twitch of some sort – whether it’s brushing your hair, biting your lip, or doing a funny little foot wiggle – but when you’re up there, do your best to relax. When you’re calm, your audience will be too; it’s a two-way street. Before the big day, notice and work on your tone of voice, facial expressions, and eye contact. Plus, a big smile goes a long way. However terrifying it may feel to know a hundred, maybe a thousand, eyes are looking at you, make the most of it. Connect with the people staring back at you, and make your words real and authentic as the speaker and as the expert.
Do the old imagine them unclothed trick
Okay, this one is a bit of a cliche; but the truth is, we’re all human! No one has any expectations for you to revolutionize the world – if you can then great – but they just expect you to deliver to the best of your abilities. If you are the type to get notably nervous, then just remember that the more you believe in yourself, then the more others will too.
Public speaking can seem like an impossible task, and a fear you may think you’ll never be able to conquer. However, it’s commonly said that to conquer your fears, you have to face them. So take a deep breath. You can do this.