CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – APRIL 2, 2021
Tips to Succeed at Your Next Event
9) Be Conversational
The first 30 seconds of a speaker’s presentation tell you almost everything you need to know about what’s next. That means you probably haven’t made it past introducing yourself before you’ve either lost or gained the attention of your audience.
So how do you make the most of that first few seconds? First, be conversational. Use inflection in your voice and engage in natural, friendly body language. Instead of staying glued to your podium, walk casually back and forth in front of your audience. Gesture with your hands and make eye contact with individual people in front of you.
Second, don’t memorize your content. You should understand the concepts you’re communicating and know the overall structure of your presentation, but don’t recite your speech word for word. You’ll seem rehearsed and less engaging.
10) Rejoice in the First Mistake
I once had an instructor who would openly rejoice when she made her first mistake in front of a large class. She said it took the pressure off for the remainder of her class, so she could simply relax and teach.
While I wouldn’t recommend calling out the first mistake you make in front of your audience — they likely didn’t even notice — it is something you can quickly take note of internally.
Don’t beat yourself up about it, feel embarrassed, or let it derail your composure. Simply acknowledge your first mistake and view it as permission to relax and move on with your presentation.
11) Tell Stories & Make It Personal
Think your audience doesn’t care about personal stories? Let me put it this way. They probably care more about the story you just told than the pie chart on the screen behind you.
Your audience is more likely to remember and share the stories you tell than the stats and figures you pack your slides with. Make your presentation personal, and remind them that you’re human.
Check out a few top TED Talks to learn how to flex your storytelling muscles. TED Talks are driven by powerful storytelling — which is one of the reasons they’re so memorable. Stories also give your audience more context around your topic, heightening their ability to relate and find value in what you have to say. Basically, when in doubt, tell a story.
12) Channel Nervous Energy into Positive Energy
If you’re not excited about your presentation, why would your audience be? One way to channel excitement into your public speaking is to transform nervous energy into positive energy.
Simon Sinek has another great insight here. After watching reporters interview Olympic athletes, he noticed many of the athletes had similar responses when asked if they were nervous before competing. They answered, “No, I was excited.”
Sinek points out that they translated the body’s signals of anxiety or stress — sweaty palms, neck tension, fast heartbeat — as excitement. When Sinek’s onstage and notices these same signs, he says out loud to himself, “I’m not nervous, I’m excited!”
13) Speak Slowly & Pause Often
Speaking slowly is hard to do — especially when you’re giving a presentation. But not only does a slower speed make it easier for your audience to understand, it also makes you seem more composed and thoughtful. Your pacing should feel a little unnatural. Only then have you probably found the right cadence.
Another way to control the pace of your presentation is to routinely pause for between three and five seconds. This length of pause remains conversational, while allowing you to take a breath and refocus before moving forward. As a bonus, it’s just long enough to get people to look up from their smartphones to see why you’ve stopped.