As a trainer and also as the Chair person of a Charity I often find myself speaking in public. Am I confident speaking in public? I would say yes most of the time, but it has taken years of practice and a range of “tricks” which I would like to share with you here.
Embrace your nerves
This was the best piece of advice I have ever been given. In my early days as a trainer someone I worked with said to me, the day you stop feeling the nerves is the day you stop caring. So to me nerves are a good thing, a sign that what I am doing matters and I want to get it right. Of course when speaking in public you may want to find ways to calm your nerves to help your delivery, but firstly, acknowledge them as a sign of your own professionalism.
As we all know preparation is key. The standard things to think about are:
- Crafting your thoughts into a coherent message
- Adding colour and punctuation to that message
- Following the principles of tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and tell them you have told them
- Practising out loud in as close to the real life situation as possible.
All very important practical activities. But what about your mental rehearsal? Fear (false evidence appearing real) comes from our mind, so its here we need to go if we are to conquer the fear and create a confident and winning mind set for speaking in public. In NLP we use a range of tools to help with this for example creating resourceful anchors, dissociating from previous experiences, future pacing. So take time to prepare physically and mentally and you will be more than half way to an amazing presentation.
Just before you speak
Two things that have always worked for me when I present happen just before I start. Firstly I bring my mind back to the hear and now. No worrying about what the audience could be like, or what if I am asked a question I haven’t prepared for. Instead I pull myself into the present and focus on doing the best I can now. Also as part of this I use the nerves I have to energize my presentation. As a not so closet Trekkie, energize is a great word for me, prepping me to ‘boldly go’ and deliver my talk. I take the adrenaline cocktail floating around my body and harness it to help me be the best I can be (fight, not flight). Ok let’s do it !
Connect with your audience
Your audience is there for a reason. That reason could be anything from they are there to support you, to they were told to come by a superior. I see my job as being to connect with every person there so that, no matter what brought them to this event, their time is not wasted. Create a positive first impression, it will energize your audience and help them to engage with both you and your topic. Make eye contact and smile, keeping your body language open to encourage engagement. Can you create opportunities for audience participation? We know that people’s attention spans are shortening so find ways to break up what you say with discussion or activity. Think about your audience at every moment, they are what matters.
Enjoy the ride!
My final tip is probably the most important of all. We have all been to presentations where the person speaking has made mistakes but has delivered the presentation in a positive energized way, and we have all been to the opposite! Speaking in public is about sharing your thoughts with others, it doesn’t have to be perfect but it does have to be a positive experience. So enjoy the preparation, the ride and the plaudits afterwards. You deserve it !