According to Glamour Magazine’s article (written by Jennifer Breheny Wallace), public speaking may seem terrifying for some but no highly placed person has gotten to the top without it.
The majority of people surveyed by Harvard University researchers said they would rather endure minor electrical shocks than give a 5-minute speech! So in hopes of convincing you to choose talking in front of an audience over torture, here are 6 painless ways to crush your next presentation:
1. Interact with your audience: if you’re going to be addressing a smaller group, get there early and introduce yourself. This way your speech can act as a continuation of the introductory conversations you had with those listening. This should help you find the same comfortable voice and tone you use in everyday conversation. Make eye contact and gestures towards your audience like you would do in normal conversation. No one wants to watch a robot talk for 20 minutes.
2. Memorize your start & your finish: In reality, it would be nice to have the entirety of your speech memorized. Or at least familiarized. But if that’s just not possible, focus on the start and finish. The beginning of your speech can often be the most nerve-wracking so having your opening statements memorized will help start you off on the right foot and show your confidence right off the bat. And knowing how you intend to close your speech will ensure you close by reiterating all your key points. Having your start and finish memorized will act as a guide map for your presentation, like getting from point A to point B.
3. Fake it till you feel it: Harvard Business School researchers found that when people participating in karaoke and public speaking thought of their nervousness as excitement, they actually performed better. So turn your speaking stress into a positive by telling yourself you’re excited. Because even if you might not feel it when you first step foot on stage, it will help channel feelings of excitement and positivity without you even realizing it.
4. Breathe: If you find yourself stumbling over your words or your nerves overtaking your focus, just breathe. A pause and breath can go a long way to re-center yourself. If you need to, look down at your feet and re-align your thoughts with the next point you want to make. Then after a nice deep breathe, look back at your audience and move on.
5. Pause: Pauses will help your audience process the information which will make them more attentive and responsive. Plus, with every pause you’ll exude confidence and authority. Just be careful you don’t pause too long where you lose their attention or too frequently where it just becomes awkward.
6. Forget Perfection: It’s not about giving the perfect speech or presentation. Because in reality, there is no right way to do it. In the end, your audience is there to learn, not to see a flawless performance. We are human and we make mistakes. Our success is displayed more through how we learn and then move past them.