This weekend gone I had the pleasure of organising a seminar on The Art of Public Speaking.
Since I conduct workshops on presentation skills, it’s clear to see the overlap between public speaking and presentation skills.
Many corporate professionals are required to do one or both and It’s highly likely that during the course of your career you’ll be required to give a presentation or speech too.
It could be a presentation on a product, a service or an idea that needs to be delivered to a manager, team, stakeholder, or client.
There are a few variations between public speaking and presenting, for example one would not use a power point presentation during a public speech, something very commonly used when giving a presentation.
Whichever it is, people normally face the same challenges when it comes to delivering a message.
Here’s an interesting quote:
“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that seem right? That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy” – Jerry Seinfeld
When speaking in front of a group of people, small or large, many people have a hard time getting over their nerves.
Fear and nerves can happen for several reasons, but in order to effectively give a presentation or a talk, should you focus on getting rid of these nerves?
Not necessarily. Follow these 3 steps to overcome your fear and present to a group with more ease:
1. Be at one with your nerves
Everyone, including the veteran speakers get nervous before stepping up in from of an audience to speak. Any seasoned speaker will tell you that nerves are a GOOD thing. The trick is not to try to suppress or prevent your nerves from coming up, rather to be OK with the fact that they are there, and learn how to get comfortable with them.
You can do this firstly by becoming aware of the feelings and reactions in your body without trying to stop them. Acknowledge them and simply take deep breaths to find your body’s rhythm.
Have water with you in case your mouth dries up and overall be prepared to handle your nerves rather than fight them.Try to channel your nervous energy in a good way for both you and your presentation/speech.
2. Focus on your message
Most of us get caught up with all the different thoughts swimming in our heads about how the audience sees us and what they must think of us. Remember, people are really only interested in hearing about the topic. You may think you’re being judged but generally people are a lot more forgiving and actually want to have a good experience alongside you.
Instead of getting caught up with fearful thoughts such as not being good enough, worried you’ll screw up etc, focus solely on the message you wish to convey. Focus on providing a talk or presentation of value, one that’s engaging and one that will leave your audience happy to have been a part of.
So remember, take the attention off of yourself and onto your content.
3. Preparation, preparation, preparation!
There are so many elements to a presentation or a speech so make sure you’ve covered all basis such as audio and any other equipment, venue size, number of attendees and audience type. Above all know your topic inside out and the purpose of the event. If you can talk from a place of passion on your subject, it will come off far more effortlessly and effectively.
Practice ahead of time, practice your speech rate, have the answers ready for the more common questions. Preparation is the key to a successful and confident delivery.
Being in the spotlight doesn’t necessary mean you have to be a complete expert on the subject. Therefore, also be prepared to not know an answer to a question, and in such cases offer to get back to the person at a later date.
Most people know that Steve Jobs delivered brilliantly planned and executed speeches and presentations. What many people may not know is that for something like a product launch, he would prepare for literally months at a time! From the content, the timing of his pauses, synchronising the click of the button for the next slide – almost to military precision. His aim was not just to deliver his message effectively, but to also create an extraordinary experience for his audience.
If you want to come off like a pro, you have to put in the hours to nail your delivery on the day.
Of course the more you are willing to step up and present, the better and more comfortable you’ll become over time.