Presenting and public speaking can be both daunting and exhilarating. In this article, I will share with you a 3-step approach to awaken the speaker within you.
Step #1: Overcome your fear and remember the impact of what you are doing
Speaking is a privilege as someone believed in you to provide you with the opportunity to present. Believe in yourself as much as they have believed in you. When you overly focus on your own fears of speaking, you become a selfish speaker. Be a selfless speaker; see yourself as a conduit of a message. Before you present, think about the ripple effects that your presentation will have. Apart from the people in the room who will listen to your message, think about who else will be impacted by your presentation. Time is finite and you can use that time to either make excuses about why you should not present or to perfect your skill at presenting and to make an impact in your circle of influence.
Step #2: Stage presence
Over time we pick up bad habits with communication in our day-to-day conversations. During a presentation, these bad habits become magnified and if you do not focus on correcting these, it becomes a distraction to your message. First, eliminate your crutch words in communication, which could include: “Erm”;“So”;“And.” Instead pause, hold the silence and think of the word. Start to speak, whilst standing still. The power of your message should come from your words and not from distracting movement. Second, practice purposeful eye contact where you look at one person in the audience until the end of a pause or the end of a sentence, and then you shift your eye contact to someone else in the audience. Focus on having a conversation with one person at a time in your audience. Third, incorporate vocal variety within your talk. Speed up to create excitement; Slow down for critical points; and evenly modulate your voice to draw your audience to your message. Fourth, bring in hand gestures into your talk. Hand gestures should align to your message. Avoid using the same hand gesture excessively. Lastly, incorporate movement as you walk around the room or stage.
Step #3: Build your confidence
Your skill of presenting will improve the more you present. With each presentation, improve on your previous attempt. Make presentations fun as you think of interesting ways to start and end your talk. Make your content practical through structure, use of slides, props, videos and activities. Research your content and provide facts, figures and statistics to validate your statements. Surround yourself with mentors and coaches to guide you to become more skilled at presenting.
- Just start! If you are going to wait until you are “perfect” to present, you will be waiting and wasting a lot of time.
- Know your why. Remind yourself why you are presenting and the impact of what your presentation can have. Become focused on achieving that “why.”
- Improve your prior best attempt. Every presentation should be an improvement from your last talk. Consistent, minor changes have a big impact in your future presentations.
- Create your own opportunities to present. Short talks, longer presentations, hosting and MCing events all contribute to your skill as a presenter.