One of the top human fears is the fear of public speaking. Another is the fear of death. But imagine that for some, the No. 1 fear can be actually dying whilst speaking in public. If the thought of standing up in front of a crowd is worse than death itself, read on for some tips on how to overcome that.
Most phobias and dreaded fears stem from a single event. Most people can recall immediately when their phobia or fear took hold, and can even associate with the sights, sounds, smells and exactly how they felt at the time. It’s important to dissociate from those feelings, or do some work around improving the phobic or negative feelings, and replacing them with more positive feelings.
The first 20 seconds
So back to the task at hand. When you stand up in front of others, the first 20 seconds are vital! If you have already been introduced, or are listed on a programme of events, it’s really not necessary to spend the first 20 seconds repeating your name. So what does work? A simple fact, a reflection, an interesting statistic, or a rhetorical question. This will grab the audience in those vital first seconds as curiosity kicks in. After answering the question yourself, or commenting on the interesting statistic, THEN you can introduce yourself again or reassure them why you are there.
Believe in yourself
Firstly, BE yourself. If you can be comfortable in your own skin, then you are half way there. That provides you with the head-space to believe in yourself enough to seek the confidence within, so you can present without.
Believe in your content
If you are passionate about your subject, then you have no problem with presenting. The challenges lie either within, or with the group you are presenting to. By simply advocating the content, it will help them see value in the information you are about to share. Research any negatives about your content and have some answers ready for “objections” or even introduce an objection and provide the anecdote.
Leave the bullets at home
The slides accompanying your presentation should not BE the presentation. Text requires energy to read. Text assumes each attendee understands language. By adding imagery and a little movement to your slides, if using them, caters to those who are more visual (viewers). Using your voice caters to those who are auditory (listeners). Using props or assigning a task will cater to those who are kinesthetic (doers). This is why it is important to “know” your audience.
By simply being open to changes in mood, content or physical changes provides you with the power to be flexible. When things don’t go as planned, including technology breakdowns, you are prepared to re-connect with your audience and improvise. Dance in the moment and go with the flow.
Nerves are good!
Our thoughts directly affect our behavior, so if we feel nervous, we act nervous. What are the signs of anxiety you should look out for? Quickening of breath, high pitch in voice, broken voice, increased heart beat.
A little anxiety is good – it keeps you on your toes, ensures you remember things like “Say Hello, introduce myself, make sure my shirt is buttoned, fly is closed, etc.” If you sense a negative energy about the event, the best thing you can do is be there early, and endeavour to get a few attendees “on your side”. Making an effort to build rapport will strengthen your advocates. If you can show “I am like you” then you can make a connection with your audience.
5 things to get you started STRONG
- Make an effort to communicate with early arrivals, they can be your greatest advocates during your presentation
- Always begin strong – the simple word “Imagine” will get people thinking and focused
- The audience know why they are there, so convince them that they made the correct choice with a strong opening statement or story. Ask a question, and ask for a show of hands. This will provide activity for those who like to be “hands on”
- Let them know very quickly how they will benefit from your speech/presentation and build on the rapport created before the event
- Make eye contact, using a capital M shape to scan the audience. This will discourage you from looking at the same friendly face during the presentation.
5 things NOT to say when speaking to a group
- “I shouldn’t really be here…”
- “Hi, my name is… and I am here today to talk to you about…”
- “And as John just mentioned, I am…. And I am here because…”
- “Wait ‘til I tell you this really funny story…”
- “BUT” during the Q&A session, as this one little word negates all that was said before, as in the attendees question or statement. Practice using “AND” instead.
Find out the WIFM, WIFT and the WIFE! Such powerful information gives you the upper-hand, always. Knowledge is power!
So what do you do to prepare for an impending presentation? Share with us below….
Image: “Conceptual image of young businessman shouting while flying in the clouds/Shutterstock“