Don’t let natural reactions get in the way of an excellent presentation
“There are always three speeches for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” ~ Dale Carnegie
If you’re a leader at any level at some point you’re going to be asked to give a speech. Often it will be a prepared speech delivered in a formal setting, sometimes it will be a presentation at a meeting, and on a daily basis it will happen in a conversation where someone asks you to share something, respond to a question, or tell a story.
No matter what the situation there are simple tricks you can use to deal with the inevitable anxiousness that accompanies such situations. But before we consider those, let’s take a moment to think about why the anxiousness happens in the first place.
The reality is that speaking in public is not easy for most people—I was petrified of it for much my early life (read that story here)—because it is a chance to fail in a very visible way, and because it always feels like you’re being judged when people are watching you do anything.
Those are natural human reactions, but they don’t have to get in your way. In fact, you can actually leverage them to become a more effective speaker.
Here are my three favorite tricks for doing that—the ones I learned to use (and still do) that helped me overcome my fear, and ultimately make the career choice to be a professional speaker.
- Always Arrive Early—Being among the first people in the room for the session when you will speak gives you a leg up on things. You can process the set-up to see how you can best work in the space, you’ll have time to check the lighting, technology, and so forth, and you’ll make a solid impression on and connection with the people who asked you to speak. Most important the room will feel like your room because you’ve been there and gotten comfortable.
- Connect with Your Audience—Since you are there as the speaker, act like a host. Welcome people, introduce yourself, engage in casual conversation, thank them for coming, invite them to enjoy the refreshments, and thank them for coming. The rapport you build during this time will boost your confidence and will make them even more supportive of your success.
- Manage Your Nerves—When you are waiting to speak, whether you are sitting or standing, here is an easy way to calm your nerves. Gently press your right thumb against the palm of your left hand. There is a point in the middle of this palm called the ulnar point. Massaging that point with light pressure will relax your body because it goes directly to your heart.
I hope you’ll use these tricks the next time you’re scheduled to give a speech or a presentation.
P.S. Thank you for reading this post. Please share it with others who might benefit, or maybe post a comment to share your best tip or trick with us. For more insights like these to help you with your speaking, download your free copy of my new ebook 52 Speaking Tricks.