Public speaking is one of the most common phobias professional people face. But it’s a fear we have to overcome because at some point, we all have to do for one reason or another.
When it comes to public speaking in your career, you won’t want to just get through it, you’ll want to ace it. Here we provide our top tips for making it an art (were hoping it’s a little more useful than ‘picture everybody naked’ …..).
Whether you’re about to step out in front of 1 or 100 people, knowing who you’re talking to and what you’re talking about is key. Do your research into your audience and tailor your content to them. Think about what they’ll want to take away from the talk and make it your aim to give them just that.
Practise, practise, practice. Practice alone, in front of a friend or even in front of a mirror. It’s normal to feel nervous, but if you prepare your speech or presentation in a structured way and know it inside out – you’ll minimise your anxiety.
DON’T RELY ON YOUR NOTES
The basic rule is outline, don’t script. Reading directly from your notes is never a good idea. Your tone of voice will fall flat and you’ll struggle to engage with your audience. How can you make eye contact if your head’s buried in your post-it notes? The answer? You can’t.
If you want to look like an expert, ditch your notes all together and refer only to your presentation. If you need to, add some bullet points to help trigger your memory. You’ll gain a lot more credibility and probably find it easier to establish a good rapport with the people you’re talking to.
GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
One of the most important things to do before a big meeting or presentation is to sleep well the night before. It might be difficult to drift off if you’re feeling anxious or worrying about what could go wrong, but there are a couple of things you can do to help.
Avoid coffee. Hear us out….. You should do this at least six to eight hours before you go to bed. Caffeine can stay in your body for up to eight hours which is not conducive to getting your beauty sleep.
Know when to switch off. Blue light exposure can trigger sleeplessness, so make sure you avoid scrolling through your phone at least 30 minutes before bed. You should also avoid endlessly going over your presentation until the early hours (we’ve all been there…). If you’ve prepared well, there’s no need and all this will do is increase your anxiety.
WATCH YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
When we’re nervous, we go into fight or flight mode. Adrenalin takes over and we use our arms in such a way as to protect ourselves. Whilst this might feel like the most natural reaction in the world, try to avoid doing it. Crossing your arms, touching your hair or twiddling your thumbs are obvious indicators to your audience that you’re out of your comfort zone.
If it’s a problem, take a prop. Hold some notes, a pen, or even a pebble to rub – all can help to keep your hands busy and your head in the game.
It might sound cheesy, but being yourself is one of the most effective ways to capture your audience. Let your personality shine through. Use humour if you feel comfortable doing so. Allow yourself to relax into your presentation because it’s our guess that a few minutes in, you’ll start to enjoy yourself as much as your audience.
There’s no such thing as failing when it comes to public speaking. If you find the courage to stand up and speak – whether you trip over your words or trip over your shoes, if you follow out advice, chances are that your audience will learn something valuable and that’s exactly what they’ll remember.
Why not take a look at how we can help when it comes to Delivering presentations with confidence? We look forward to helping you to present to your audience with impact.