In the professional services space, speaking publicly has become one of the key skills required for success. Speaking up in a meeting, presenting at a board meeting, or presenting at an industry conference are key activities that require us to put our best foot forward and show our audience how exceptional we can be. Our expectations of ourselves and each other are so much higher than it has been before.
In the past, it was standard for someone to stand in front of the room, speaking in a monotonal voice, with a boring, plain PowerPoint presentation in Times New Roman to yammer away for 50 minutes. Now, our perception of what a good presentation should be has changed thanks to TED Talks, where amazing thought leaders are able to articulate their brilliant idea in 18 minutes or less with no notes.
For many though, speaking publicly is scary. It was Jerry Seinfeld that said “according to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Does that sound right? This means that to the average person if you go to a funeral, you’re better off being in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
Having some fear when it comes to public speaking and presenting is natural and to be expected. It happens to everyone! My first keynote speaking presentation was at a large conference in New Zealand. I recall sitting in the audience with my notes, shuffling through papers, going over my notes to ensure that I remembered the critical things I wanted to share. It was then my turn, I could feel my palms clamming up, my breathing becoming shallow, and I could feel a burning sensation in my stomach. I hadn’t felt this level of nervousness for a long time.
I stood at the podium to place my materials (in case I needed them) and took a big breath in and then breathed it out. I was ready. I’d implemented many of the learnings from my own training, work, and communications, and public speaking practice to ensure that I was going to deliver a damn good presentation because I knew I had an important message to share.
I’ve got three hot tips that will assist you in ensuring you are able to deliver an epic presentation and gain some confidence to say it all aloud for your audience.
1. Get a structure that works:
If you’re able to break your presentation down into small parts, it will make it easier for you to learn. The easier it is to learn, the more confident and comfortable you will feel. As is regularly said, you can’t eat an elephant in one bite. The same can be said with your presentation. Once you have broken it down into the important pieces, you get to see how it all fits together and flows. This provides you the ability to remember what you want to say and in what order.
2. Let your key message be your motivation:
Every time we communicate in our workplaces, we do so because we have an important thing to share. We move and focus with this motivation to make a strong impact, to influence a decision, and to really demonstrate how critical we are as an employee. When we go to speak, other thoughts fill our heads.
Most fears of public speaking stem from the fear of being judged. When scientists study stress in humans, they will induce anxiety by asking study participants to give a speech.
Changing the focus from “what will others think of me?” to “what will people learn from hearing me speak?” will improve your focus and allow you to feel more confident in your voice.
3. Practice, practice, practice:
The best way to feel confident in knowing what you’re going to say, and how you’re going to say it. Practicing is one of the best ways to ensure you are able to speak well, learn your content and figure out the best way to deliver it with your voice.
Vladimir Horowitz said, “the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is practice.” The same can be said when delivering a presentation. Although you may have an idea about how you will sound on your end, to enable you to learn your content, and to really be as prepared as you can, practicing your presentation out loud, several times, is the best way to ensure you learn and are ready for the talk.
You can only become more confident with something the more you do it. In our professional environments, we will be required to speak more, deliver presentations that can influence change, and inform our peers. As such, formulating your presentation in a structure that works will help your memory. Having the right motivation will help your mindset. Practicing your talk will allow you to improve it and have it sound the way you want it.
Can I help you?
Through my advisor program, I coach people one-on-one to assist them with their communications and speaking needs. Book a virtual coffee with me and we can chat further!
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About the author:
Theo Kapodistrias is a multi-national award-winning lawyer and keynote speaker, trainer, and advisor. He is passionate about being involved in the community and holds several voluntary positions including being the Executive Director of TEDxHobart. His keynote speaking, training, and advising business is designed to help individuals to be seen, be heard, and make an impact through their voice and through their words www.theokap.com.au