CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – SEPTEMBER 1, 2020
Improve Your Public Speaking Skills (PT. 2)
6) Meet Audience Members First
It’s always a good idea to meet a few of your audience members before taking the stage.
This is a great way to calm pre-presentation jitters, not to mention network and recruit a few last-minute audience members into your meeting or session. Bonus points if you find a way to incorporate those conversations into your speech.
To illustrate, suppose you talked with Laura from XYZ Sales at the coffee bar this morning. If Laura shared that sales recruitment is a big roadblock to scaling their sales team, include this anecdote in your presentation, along with tips on how you would approach the situation.
7) Give Yourself Time to Acclimate
Many speakers begin talking immediately after being introduced or walking onstage. Instead, try approaching the stage in silence. This gives you time to gather your thoughts, take a deep breath, and get used to being in front of the audience.
It gives your audience the chance to get used to you as well. If they’re checking email or answering some last-minute texts, it provides a few buffer moments so they can wrap up. This pause also sets the tone for the rest of your speech, which should be evenly paced, effective, and purposeful.
8) Don’t Open with an Excuse
How many times have you heard a speaker start by saying, “Sorry, I didn’t have much time to prepare,” or “My flight was delayed last night, so I’m a little tired”?
Your audience doesn’t care. Announcing to them that you haven’t prepared or are tired from a long flight won’t change the way your presentation is received or remembered.
Don’t begin your presentation with an excuse. That makes the time about you, when it should be about your audience and how you can provide value to them.
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.