Motivation Monday: Public Speaking 101
Your ability to speak coherently, compellingly, and credibly are key to your success in any job. However, nearly everyone experiences some anxiety (or even dread) before speaking in front of others, and becoming comfortable with public speaking can take time and practice. Here are some tips and tricks to help you become cool, calm, and collected before your next presentation:
Embrace the anxiety. Fear drives you to practice and prepare, and we all know that practice makes perfect.
Practice. Practice. Practice. Video record yourself and watch your presentation. What do other people see? You might notice odd behaviors or nervous tics you weren’t aware of, verbal fillers to nix, and areas in which you could improve upon your pacing. Continue practicing in front of the mirror, to friends and families, and until you could do the presentation in your sleep.
But remember… people are rooting for you. The people you are presenting to do not want to see you flub up and fail. They are most likely rooting for you, or at the worst, not paying attention. Instead of being concerned with “being good” and “impressing the audience,” focus on how you can contribute to those listening to you. Do you have information that might help them think about their problem differently? Thinking about how you can impact them will lead to a much more engaging presentation than thinking about how you can make them like you. Make it about them, not you.
Be prepared for the unexpected to happen. Technology fails, so if your presentation relies on technology, you need to have a back-up plan. Remain composed and unflustered – take your time and make a joke of it. If you have practiced your presentation a lot, you will be able to roll with this. You can improvise, continue the presentation without the technology, and still do a great job.
Breathe instead of um-ing and uh-ing and so-ing. You can’t talk and inhale at the same time. The pause is more credible than stammering around.
Grab their attention. The average attention span of the modern human is 6 seconds. You better make your presentation engaging. Eye contact helps with this, as does asking questions throughout you presentation. The more engaged your audience is, the more intriguing they will find what you have to say (because they will actually be paying attention, knowing that they may be called upon).
Be mindful of what your body is saying. Research suggests that 7% of the message you are communicating is said through words, 38% through the tone of your voice, but 55% through your body language. Make eye contact, sit up straight and confidently, and limit fidgeting, nervous behaviors.