At a funeral, most people would rather be in the coffin than standing up in front of the audience delivering the eulogy.However, that need not be the case!
I believe everyone has the ability to find and maximize the power of their voice and I love to be the catalyst for that vocal transformation.
So – why present? What can presenting with conviction do for you and your business?
Presenting well is one of the most powerful things you can do to raise your profile, to market your businesses, to position yourself as an ‘expert’ and to attract new clients.
Whether you are presenting a 60 second elevator pitch at a networking event or delivering a keynote speech at a conference, applying some simple ‘Top Tips’ will ensure you are ‘seen, heard, ‘heard of’ and remembered long after you have left the room’. (lovely quote by the fabulous Amy Deane)
Even though we know presenting is one of the most effective ways to grow our businesses, the majority of us will shy away from speaking in public, and the truth is that for many of us, the fear of public speaking still tops the fear of death!
Why is that?
It is the fear of being judged and of being found ‘wanting’!
From a very early age we have a basic need to belong, to be part of a tribe and to be accepted by our peers – to be one of the crowd! (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs)
However when we stand up to speak we are on our own, we are standing out from the crowd and delivering our own unique message like nobody else can.
We fear that others will be bored, will find our message lacks depth or interest, that they will no longer value our thoughts, our opinions or even our friendship.
Yet when we are well prepared, have a clear message, educate our audience and deliver with conviction, the opposite is true and people will seek us out, want to know more, use our services and recommend us to others.
One of our biggest fears is being judged by our audience.
Many of us suffer from ‘Imposter Syndrome’; feeling we are not good enough and wondering why anyone would want to listen to us!
To combat this very real fear it is important to earn the right to command the attention of others. So establish your authenticity and credibility from the outset.
The audience need to know why they should listen to you, so dispel any doubts in your opening remarks, it will make you and your listeners feel confident that you deserve to be there.
- What’s your unique story?
- Why do you speak about what you speak about?
- What makes you an authority?
Ensure that you know your subject inside out and feel you have something valuable to share.
Become an eternal student, be a learning junkie. Constantly read about and research your subject, and then bring your newfound knowledge to your talks.
Make sure that you can cite the source of your findings; it shows you have done your homework and invested your time in making sure you deliver value.
The impact of this will be as follows –
- You will feel excited that you are educating your audience.
- You will be looking forward to sharing your new material.
- Your audience will be engaged right from the start.
- They will gain valuable new knowledge with takeaways.
The audience also has fears. They fear;
- Wasting their precious time.
- Hearing the same old information with nothing new.
- Having no valuable takeaways included.
So allay those fears in your opening remarks, and put them at ease. Get them scrambling for their pens and writing notes right from the start;
- By engaging them immediately you will also feel engaged, more confident, more in flow!
- When you are in ‘flow’ you positively ‘glow’, and you attract people who want to be in your space, because you are a joy to be around.
Here are my Top Ten Tips on speaking with more passion, power and presence.
- Watch and learn from the professionals
Some people are naturally brilliant at captivating an audience, so go and see them in action. How do they open their talks and grab the attention of the audience? What gets the best reaction and interaction from their listeners? Study their body language, the way they dress, the materials they use. Analyse what you and your fellow listeners value about the talk and the presenter and adapt the key learnings to make them your own.
- Know your content
Research your content thoroughly and share some new studies and statistics so you can educate your audience and show you are an expert in your field. Keep up to date with the latest news and trends so you are prepared for questions and you are able to answer them with conviction. Being thoroughly versed in your topic will enable you to deliver it with conviction and passion.
- Know your audience
Research your audience before you speak. Who are they? What do they do? What level of expertise do they have already? What are they interested in? What outcome does the organizer want for them? How many will be there? Will they get a chance to ask questions and to talk to you afterwards? Make sure your material is relevant and to the point and create your content around the needs of your audience to ensure they are fully engaged.
You may have delivered this talk many times before, however, there is always room for improvement and practicing before you speak will enable you to add new relevant information, fine tune your words and add new knowledge you have acquired since the last time you spoke.
If you are new to speaking – practice until you feel really confident in your delivery. Practice in front of a family member, partner or colleague and ask for their honest feedback and then amend your talk accordingly.
If you are likely to forget the content, keep prompt cards to hand which you can relate too. However, make sure you don’t just read through them, they are only there as prompts.
- Get them involved
Keep your audience engaged rather than just talking at them for a long period of time. Research has shown that people will pay attention for a maximum of 7-10 minutes so avoid speaking for long periods of time without any interaction. Every so often ask them a question or give them something practical to do to emphasise the points you are trying to make.
Keep good eye contact with your audience and be intuitive as to when it is time to shake things up a little.
If you appear nervous, talk too quickly or in a very quiet voice with little passion or energy, you will make your audience uneasy. Remember you know far more on your specialist subject than your audience does so you are educating them and everyone loves to learn. You want to have them hanging on your every word!
If you feel a little uneasy, take a deep breath, hold for a couple of seconds, look up and make eye contact with your audience and begin speaking clearly and slowly.
Use the power of the pause! You don’t have to fill every nano-second. Pauses will give you time to think and your audience time to absorb your wisdom, they also make you appear more confident.
Using anecdotes in your talk will not only emphasise the point you are trying to make, it also brings it alive and engages the audience. Everyone loves a good story and it makes your talk more memorable and personal.
- Small errors are okay
If you forget what you want to say, use a wrong word or phrase – it really doesn’t matter especially if you can make light of it. People do it all the time, so don’t keep thinking about why you did it, laugh it off and just keep going. Nobody knows what you had planned to say next and it shows some vulnerability, which is endearing to others.
- Wrapping things up
Knowing when enough is enough is really important. Too often speakers say ‘and finally’ and then ramble on for a further 5-10 minutes by which time their listeners have moved on to anticipate the next speaker or the break. Finish with a memorable thought, great quote or clear call to action and keep something back that is likely to make them want to hear more.
- Gratitude goes a long way
Ensure you always thank the hosts and your audience. They have gifted you their valuable time so show them that you are grateful and that you appreciate the opportunity.
“Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it: To Whom It May Concern.” Ken Haemer
Watch Sylvia, in action presenting here https://youtu.be/5v0bIJa9g1Y
To turn your presentation into a memorable performance and any speaker coaching please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Book onto the transformational “Unlock The Power of Your Voice” workshop on 16th June – only 6 places available