Do the mere words 'Public Speaking' have your mouth drying up? Or do you love an audience? Every leader will need to address people at some stage, whether that be a small meeting room or a crowd of people. No matter your level of experience, this page should have a tip for you!
1) Schedule Practice Sessions
Make sure you have taken the time to practice your speech the whole way through at least once to get a good feel for your order and timing. Take extra time to practice your intro, a good start will keep you pedaling to the next point and the next. If you are able to practice infront of someone else you can use their feedback to tweak your delivery.
2) Slick Slideshow
If you have an accompanying slideshow, you want it to be an aid not a crutch. Keep the slides professional by using limited text and adding any relevant info-graphics, diagrams or pictures to show your information in different ways to your viewers. Make sure you have your slides on a USB AND emailed to yourself just incase and that your program is compatible with the device being used on the day- Microsoft Powerpoint, Keynote and Google Slides are all considered professional and highly compatible slides. You should also have a plan for how you’re going to click through your slides, will you have access to a clicker or stand by the computer?
3) Get enough sleep
Make sure you switch off at a reasonable time to get enough sleep in. Sleep deprivation affects your memory and ability to control your emotions which can make it hard to stay calm.
4) Positive Self-Talk
It is easy to be critical of ourselves and talk ourselves out of giving the best performance. You can use this inner voice to your advantage by turning a psych-out into a psych-up; tell yourself you will be successful, ask yourself if others would be as critical of your speech as you are being and remind yourself of the things you have already accomplished. Our attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, so take the right attitude into your presentation!
5) Be Early
Plan to be early and then add a buffer! You don’t want any reason to be extra stressed going into your speech and running late will definitely speed up your heart and speech. Plan to be early, get yourself familiar with the space and have time to test any technology you need to (powerpoint, microphone stand, etc).
6) Keeping Calm
Try some relaxing techniques before your speech. Tune into your breathing and make a conscious effort to slow it down. Intense nervous energy can make you feel light and wobbly-legged, take time to notice your feet firmly on the ground. For some people it can help to have a chat to someone at the event before it starts to break the ice between you and the audience, for others you might prefer to listen to some calming music or read over your speech very very slowly to keep the audience at a distance. Know what works for you and allow yourself to do it.
7) Dress to Impress
As with any job interview, networking event or professional gathering you should dress appropriately for the event. More than that, you should dress to feel confident. Put that extra curl in your hair or spray of cologne to give you that extra ego boost.
8) Embrace pauses
Pausing helps you to pace your speech, gives the audience time to follow along and gives you time to breathe and think about what’s up next. When you’re nervous, your senses are heightened helping us to take in more information about the world around us, but this also gives the illusion that time is moving faster. You may feel like a pause is long and awkward, but it doesn’t come across that way to your audience, so embrace longer pauses.
9) Move on from mistakes
If you make a mistake in your presentation, if a word slips or a slide isn’t quite right- don’t let it detract from the rest of your presentation. If you can easily carry on without focusing on the mistake, great! If you need to acknowledge and correct the mistake, that’s fine too! Everyone in the room is human and they are not going to hold you to perfection. Let the error go and move on to your next idea with confidence. Also keep in mind, diverging from a verbatim transcript is not a mistake! You should aim to speak to each point following a structured guide rather than a script.
10) End confidently
It’s easy to let your words fade out as you summarise what you’ve said. Keep in mind that the information might feel repetitive to you, but it’s the first time your audience is hearing it, meaning the summary is what they will take away. Be sure to let your audience know what their next steps should be in response to your presentation by leaving them with a call to action. Be prepared with any additional materials you might want to help your audience fulfil the call to action, such as handy business cards.