Whether you’re presenting to a boardroom, giving a sales pitch to a potential client, going on an interview, or even coaching your kid’s sports team, chances are, at some point you’ll be doing a little public speaking.
Commanding an audience is no easy feat. Top executives and politicians make it look easy, but even the most seasoned public speaker can get a case of the nerves. For us mortals, it can happen frequently and limit our ability to accurately express the great ideas on our mind.
While the process can be intimidating for some, there are a few easy and effective ways to alleviate much of the anxiety surrounding these events, allowing us to focus on what’s really important.
As it has likely been a while since your freshman survey course in public speaking, we’ve put together a few tips to help you make it through your next presentation!
1. Know your content
Over prepare. Automatically, you’ll feel confidence in yourself and the material you’re presenting, ensuring smooth transitions throughout your presentation without having to think twice. Think you’ve nailed it in the practice room? Spend another hour on it to adopt a more conversational tone.
2. Prepare for questions
Chances are, your audience will need some clarity on a few things you touched on. Worry not, this is great -- your listeners were engaged! Assemble a list of questions you might expect from them and practice giving logical, conversational answers.
3. Make eye contact
This is key. Yes, even if you’re speaking to a large audience. Making eye contact will help you focus in on your delivery. If your eyes are jumping around, it’s likely that your concentration will follow. Narrow in on a few people in the meeting and direct your speech right at them.
4. Slow and steady
As your nerves start to rise, you’ll naturally speak faster. Eliminate this as much as possible as your content should be slow enough for your audience to fully digest. Practice your presentation at a painfully slow pace and stick with that cadence all the way through. In the actual moment, you’ll find the perfect middle ground.
Be approachable! Would it make you feel uncomfortable if someone giving a presentation was robotic? Body language is critical, so remember, when appropriate, smile. After all, you should be enjoying yourself!
6. Drink Water
Take a glass of water with you into the presentation. If you’re speaking for more than a few minutes, your mouth will get dry. Take a break to hydrate!
Exercise is a great way to burn off some excess anxiety and stress. If you can, do some cardio or weight lifting in the morning prior to your speech. Don’t worry, you won’t be too tired out, but you will release some necessary endorphins to give you the perfect pick-me-up.
8. Leave Space
Pausing is natural and it draws your listener back in. What might feel awkward and drawn out actually gives everyone in the room a chance to process, especially between big ideas. Allot time at the end for questions as well!
9. Make Your Beginning and Ending Count
The two parts of your presentation that are going to get the most attention are the beginning and the end. If we’re being honest, there will be times during the middle where, frankly, your audience zones out for a moment. Summarizing key points during the start and ending of your pitch will leave the audience with a lasting impression.
10. Be Yourself
Be yourself! Take on the confidence of a Gordon Gekko or a Don Draper, but craft your presentation to fit your style. Trust us, it will be much better received. Always play off your own strengths and keep a positive attitude!
Have any other tips? Feel free to comment below!