Public Speaking or Presenting: Engagement Essentials, Week Two

Public Speaking or Presenting Engagement Essentials, Week Two - Photograph by Kyle Glenn | Kathy Ennis | LittlePiggy

If I were to tell you that you’ve been booked to speak at a well-attended business event in a week’s time, how would you feel?

If your automatic answer is “terrified!”, you’re in good company.  I’m lucky enough to meet a lot of bright, confident and capable business people who are fantastic at what they do.  Yet many of them freely admit that they are nervous about public speaking or presenting; there’s something about being in front of an audience!

If I were to tell you that you’ve been booked to speak at a well-attended business event in a week’s time, how would you feel? If your automatic answer is “terrified!”, you should read this #blog Click To Tweet

Public speaking is often quoted as being many people’s greatest fear, in some cases even greater than the fear of loneliness or death!

When we stop and think about it, fear of public speaking, presenting or pitching is completely understandable.  We don’t speak in front of an audience every day, and being a good speaker is not something that comes naturally to many of us.

However, the opportunity to stand up and speak to a welcoming group of people is a genuine privilege, so wouldn’t it be great if you could relax, enjoy and really make the most of it?

The good news is that you can.  Confident public speaking or presenting is a skill that can be learned, just like any other – and once you’ve memorised the easy tips I’m going to share with you now, you may not want to pause for breath!

Public Speaking and Presenting 101: Hold the Apology!

I hear the word “sorry” so often when I train nervous speakers.  They want to apologise for everything, from never having done public speaking or presenting before, to not being very good at presentations.

If you’re tempted to say sorry before you’ve even begun speaking, remember that you have generally been asked to talk because you’re good at something, or you have information that will interest your audience.

Own it, and don’t apologise!

If you’re tempted to say sorry before you’ve even begun speaking, remember that you have generally been asked to talk because you’re good at something, or you have information that will interest your audience. Own it, and don’t… Click To Tweet

Do Your Research Before Public Speaking or Presenting to an Audience

There’s nothing worse than turning up to an event and not knowing whom you’re presenting to, in a scary venue you’ve never visited before.

So take the time to find out whom you’ll be speaking to, and the potential size of the audience, in advance.  This will help you decide how you should dress, and how you might tweak your subject or presentation beforehand.

If you can, pay an advance visit to the venue and see where you’ll be presenting from.  Make sure your presentation slides are saved in a format that will work with the venue’s IT system.

These little pieces of research will help you feel prepared – which in turn, will help you feel more confident.

Public Speaking and Presenting 201: Planning Your Presentation

If you can, open your presentation with a light-hearted anecdote or a human-interest story, rather than dry facts or a set of statistics.  Doing this will hook your audience in right from the beginning.

(I would suggest staying away from jokes; they can be a risky. Everybody has a different sense of humour!).

You will also need to let people know who you are, and why you’ve ended up standing in front of them to speak about your subject.  Establish your credibility – you’ve earned it!

Throughout your public speaking or presenting opportunity, make sure you’re really speaking to the needs of your audience.  What information or understanding are you there to provide?

Oh – and don’t forget to ask questions!  This is a sure-fire way to engage your audience, so try to think of a few that relate to your subject, and that you can ask right from the start.

(For example, if your specialist subject is recruitment, you could ask your audience to put their hands up if they’re responsible for making recruiting decisions, or if they simply bear the brunt of the bad ones!)

Throughout your public speaking or presenting opportunity, make sure you’re really speaking to the needs of your audience. What information or understanding are you there to provide? #blog Click To Tweet

Public Speaking and Presenting: What to be Aware of On the Day…

While you’re likely to feel nervous, there are some simple strategies you can follow that will help you feel more confident on presentation day.

First, keep in mind that it’s normal to be nervous!  Nerves can even be useful, as they supply a burst of energy that you can harness for your presentation.  Just remember to breathe slowly and deeply before you begin.

Also try to remember that the audience are your allies in all this. Rather than being out to get you, they are simply there to find out more about you and your subject.

It may help you to establish an easy ‘warm up’ routine, in which you do some simple stretching exercises and flex your facial muscles before you start.  (I do this by thinking about something that makes me laugh).

Finally, don’t forget to make eye contact with your audience, and try to smile occasionally!

It’s flattering to be asked to speak, and that people have come to listen to you. Give yourself permission to relax, be yourself and enjoy the experience.

It’s flattering to be asked to speak, and that people have come to listen to you. Give yourself permission to relax, be yourself and enjoy the experience. #blog Click To Tweet

I’ll be covering a brand-new engagement essential in my next blog post.  Until then, feel free to post any public speaking or presenting-related comments or questions below. Let’s face it, I would love to hear any horror stories too!!

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