Your name is called up as the next presenter and the audience claps for you. You look happy and excited as you walk on stage. Instantly, your audience anticipates a good speech. From the first word, your listeners are captivated by your clear and strong voice, your vivid descriptions, your secure body language and your heart. As you talk, you feel in command of the room and your audience is left exhilarated when you are done.
If you have aspired to be like this picture but have not known how, here are simple actions to take today to make your next presentation great.
Firstly, it is so important to remember that your speech will only be as powerful as the person behind it. Public speaking is about a positive connection with yourself and a positive connection with your audience™. Keep learning and connecting with your positive attributes everyday. The more you like yourself, the more your words will carry weight when you speak.
1. Picture what kind of an effect you want your speech to have. Do you want to leave people empowered? Inspired? Happy? Convicted? Equipped? When you know the one thing you want to leave your audience with, it makes your presentation focused and meaningful. Speak from that same emotion as you talk and your listeners will connect with it. For example, if you’re going to talk about how to be happy, you should get on that stage looking and feeling joyful!
2. Replace nervousness with excitement. When you look forward to giving your presentation it shows in how you deliver it. It reveals how well-prepared you are to speak on the subject and the conviction you have to share it.
3. Get to the venue early and walk around the room. When you do this, you intuitively establish your command of the room. You also feel more in control when you speak. Sit in the last row and look up to the stage. This will help you to understand how far the person in the back is and gauge how much to carry your voice in order to be heard in that last row when you are on stage.
4. Stand in akimbo (hands resting on your waist), if you are back stage. It is a power pose that will help you feel strong and in charge before going on stage. Walk to the podium with your hands down and your back straight. You will instantly look taller, confident and in charge.
5. Get on the stage smiling, if the occasion warrants it. It immediately makes you likeable and approachable to your audience. It also shoots up all your feel-good hormones (your endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin), to make you feel calmer, happier and confident.
6. When you speak, do not start your first sentence with an ‘umm’. It instantly kills the confident energy you were carrying and makes you look unsure. Eliminate ‘umms & uhhs’ throughout your speech. It kills the trust the audience have in you. Start by putting your speech down and looking straight at your audience for a couple of seconds. When you do that you are establishing your presence and authority over the whole room.
7. Speak clearly. Pronounce your words properly. Mumbling, to your audience, is like trying to look through a foggy glass. It frustrates your listeners if they have to continuously decipher what you are saying. The clearer your voice is the more engaged your audience will be.
8. Carry your voice to the person in the last row. Your good voice projection signals confidence in you and in your audience. It gives weight to your words. It subtly shows respect to your audience because you care enough about them to ensure that they can hear what you are saying.
9. Do not speak in monotone. Alter the tone of your voice to suit the statement you are making. For example, if you are talking about mountain climbing, make your voice higher at the point where you are talking about climbing to reflect it. If you are describing an angry customer, you could grunt your voice to depict what they said.
Bonus Tip: If you want to get your listeners attention during a particular point in your speech, take a pause, lower your voice a little and then speak. It creates curiosity and anticipation for what you are about to say to them.
10. Do not end your statements in a questioning tone. Sometimes referred to as “upspeak”. I call it ‘doubt speak’ because it makes you look insecure and doubtful of what you are saying. If you seem unsure of what you are saying, why would your audience believe you? It destroys your credibility. If you are sure of what you are saying then speak like someone who is certain of their words.
If you take these easy actions to sharpen the delivery of your next presentation, you will find that you will enjoy the experience as much as your audience. Try just one of these steps and see how it impacts people’s response to your speech!