You can you Speak with confidence
One of the greatest fears we all have, is the fear of speaking in public. Some research I read a few years back showed that people feared public speaking even more than they feared death. Wow, that is quite an incredible result. It is crazy to think that someone, would rather die, than stand in front of a group of people and deliver a speech.
This unnecessary fear is an instinctive primeval response, to our inbred fear of standing out from the herd. When we lived in a society, where there was a threat from predators. Anyone, who stood out from the crowd, was at the highest risk of being predated. So yes that fear you feel, when you are expected to deliver a speech in front of a group of people is real. It is primeval deep rooted fear of standing out. My question here is pretty simple. When last did you hear about a sabre toothed tiger eating someone, whilst they were speaking in public?
Time to deliver
I am sure that you have all experienced that incredible fear, as the announcer reads your introduction and signals you to come onto the stage to deliver your speech. As you walk towards the stage, your stomach is in your mouth, your mouth is dry and your hands are shaking. This is a very natural response. The challenge though, is that it is now time to stop worrying and to start delivering.
This is your moment to shine, a wonderful opportunity to deliver your valuable message. It is your time to influence and inspire the people, who have come to listen to you. As you start to speak, “Your mind clears and you are able to deliver the best most inspiring speech of your life”. I know this is possible for you too, as I was probably one of the most nervous public speakers around and now I travel the world speaking to audiences of between 20 and 2500 many times a week.
You can do it
I have experienced standing ovations from huge groups of people and also had a few really challenging experiences, where both the electrical power and my energy has failed me. Despite these challenges, I had to continue speaking, with a flashlight to a very unresponsive audience. All these lessons have helped shape me and have honed my skills as a speaker. I want to share a few secrets I have discovered during my travels as a public speaker. I hope these ideas will help you to become a persuasive, influential speaker too.
The talk you deliver, is never about you
Always remember that any talk you deliver is never about satisfying you. It is 100 % about the audience. No matter where you are delivering a speech, even if it is at a family wedding. The most important people are the audience members themselves. Start by putting yourself in their shoes, seats and mind-sets.
Ask yourself the question, “If I were this audience, what is the most important, urgent message, I need to hear today”? Next take your persuasion objectives and align them with their expectations, needs, challenges and perspective, before you even start to speak. In other words, you must show complete, genuine interest in your listeners and they will sense your authenticity and in turn will show genuine interest in you and your message.
Never write your speech out word for word
You can never deliver a really powerful speech, which is targeted at each audience’s needs and expectations, if you try to deliver a canned speech, which you have memorised word for word. You need to know exactly what your persuasion objectives are and then you need to build, your delivery around the audience and their needs.
Action Idea: Write your three key points out as precisely as possible. You can also create a mind map or pictures, if you are a more visual person. Once you have your key points clarified and the objectives of what you are trying to achieve is absolutely clear. The next step is to practice connecting all the points together, with a natural flow and pacing. Remember that no-one will know that you forgot something out or that you flubbed a line, unless you tell them.
Always expect the Unexpected
No matter what happens, always act like the interruption is unimportant. If a cell phone rings, a door slams, or any other major interruption occurs. Simply ignore it. If you focus on the interruption, the audience will move their focus away from you, to whatever you move your focus onto. So if someone sneezes and you say bless you. You will have lost your audience and will need to regain their attention, once again. As long as you stay focused on your message, so will your audience.
Death by PowerPoint
There is no worse way of delivering a message, than using too many PowerPoint slides, with too much text on each one. To compound matters, the person speaking then reads the slides to the audience. Nothing can lose an audience faster than that. If you find yourself reading your slides to your audience, save everyone some time and rather email them a copy. They can then read it themselves, without wasting everyone else’s time.
Action Idea: If you must use PowerPoint, I suggest that you use one slide per five – seven minutes of talking, with a maximum of 10 words on each one. The best option is to use an appropriate picture or photo, to embellish or enhance your message.
When you close, include a message to your listeners, about why they are important. Stay focused on them and how your message will affect them, their jobs, lives or families. Try really hard to humanise your message at the end and people will leave with a connection, which goes way beyond the mere time you have invested together.
Even if you lose your footing and fall off the stage face down on the carpet. Simply say “I will now take questions from the floor” LOL. Speaking in public is not as hard as you believe it is. Enjoy the experience and it can become one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life.