Public speaking can increase the reach of your brands message and can establish you as a thought leader in your industry. If you suffer from a lack of confidence, public speaking can help build that up and will allow you to easily assume a leadership position. Public speaking also teaches you valuable communication skills that can help you create stronger relationships with potential clients. Below we have collated some tips for public speaking.
Many local networking events allow you to have a 10 minute slot to present to 20 or so people. These can be great practise to help you handle your nerves and get feedback so you can improve.
Start with a strong hook
Stories about yourself and your life are great ways to gain your audiences attention, as it a well known quote or little known statistic. You need to grab their attention and create wonder, this sets the pace for the rest of your presentation.
Whether it’s nerves or you’re just an easily excitable person (guilty!), you can start talking very quickly without realising it. It does give you the ability to convey more information across to your audience, but they will struggle to understand what you are saying. Speak slowly and clearly. If you feel yourself speeding up, stop at the end of the sentence, catch your breath and begin again. Your audience wants you to be great and they want to listen, they’re a lot more forgiving than you’d think!
Know who you are talking to
Before the event, ask the organiser who the expected attendees are and how many. This way you can get to know your audience before hand and can adapt your presentation where needed. Arrive at the venue early and mingle with some attendees to help ease your nerves, it’s easier talking to someone you know compared to a stranger.
Preparation is key
You may think you can wing it, chances are you can’t. Rehearse out loud at home and time it to make sure you are within the time constraints and make sure you’re not constantly looking at your Powerpoint (if you have one) for queues. Avoid using words like umm and okay, they are meaningless and deliver no value to the audience.
Listen to other speakers
Get out to some events and watch some other speakers in action. Where possible, watch videos online so you can see their body language, facial expressions and their energy. My favourite to watch is Gary Vaynerchuk, though his style would not suit everyone. Don’t try to mimic other speakers, find your own style of speaking as people will be able to see through this. Be authentic.
Keep eye contact and smile
When you smile, it’s like a party in your brain and it’s contagious too. Smiling helps fight off stress and help you relax and when you smile, it’s a natural reaction to smile back (if they don’t, they’re making a conscious decision not to). Make sure you keep eye-contact with your audience, this helps keep them engaged with what you’re saying and portrays confidence (even if you’re terrified!). Don’t just scan the audience, pick out audience members one by one and speaking directly to them.
Don’t acknowledge your mistakes
Made a mistake on stage? If it’s only a small mistake, just brush over it like it never happened, chances are nobody noticed. If it’s quite a big mistake, try making light of the situation. Once your audience laughs you know they are relaxed and engaged.
Ignore the Debbie-downers
There is always someone that’s going to try to bring you down, whether that’s shaking their head during their presentation or even telling you you’re terrible in a Q&A. Ignore them. Handle it with grace. Don’t get upset or angry as this can ruin your personal brand, instead, make light of the situation.
Make sure that you move around the stage or space and make use of what area is available. Also, keep your presentation moving. It must be engaging all the way through with no slow points otherwise you risk losing your audiences attention. Use your energy to keep people engaged.
Leave a nugget for the end
The end part of a presentation can be very difficult to get right, especially when you’re dropping knowledge bombs constantly. Save your best knowledge bomb until the end to leave an impact on your audience.
To be invited to speak is an amazing thing and gratitude goes a long way. At the beginning or the end of your presentation, thank the audience for showing up and the organisers for inviting you to attend.
Here at Fruitworks, we run monthly events in Canterbury (both business and fun!) with opportunities for public speaking. If you are interested, feel free to click the button below to email me 🙂
PS – Inc have an awesome post on how to WOW your audience, check it out 🙂