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5 Tips to Help You Present With Confidence
This article is the second in a series of three articles devoted to speech.
A previous post talked about overcoming public speaking anxiety by understanding the three sources of public speaking anxiety. In case you missed it, you can find it under the heading “3 Top Reasons We Get Nervous When We Present.”
In this second part, I’ll go over 5 tips on presentation techniques that will help you stand up and speak with confidence. But before I list them, let me cover the basics: your audience is here to listen to people. You and they may have forgotten this truth, so remind both of you. In fact, your audience hasn’t heard about derivative pricing and how to sell more widgets. They came to listen your message on derivative pricing and increasing widget sales.
Would you agree that a talented speaker can bring a boring topic to life? If so, the most important part of your presentation is how YOU bring it to life. Yes, your slides can help (and we’ll cover that in the third and final part of this series on presentation challenges), but even the best slides will fall flat if the presenter doesn’t do it justice. But a good speaker can save mediocre slides. That’s why the advice I’m going to share is about putting yourself in a room that will appeal to your audience.
Tip #1: Build a relationship with your audience 3
The 3 E’s represent energy, enthusiasm and excitement. And you bring them into the room when you have open body language, a comfortable posture, and a calm, confident attitude. So come early and meet your audience as they enter. After the speech, own the stage and interact with the audience: don’t hesitate. Leave the lecture. Don’t hide behind the podium. Do not cling to it!
Look at your audience, of course. Many of us turn away from the audience to read the text on the slide aloud. There are two problems with this. First, the audience reads faster in your mind than you read out loud, so they finish before you and then get bored and have time to start playing with Blackberries. The second problem is that if you have to read your slides, you’re admitting that you’re not on top of your presentation. Use notes, cue cards, or even a teleprompter if you need reminders, but don’t write down your slides to use as speaker notes.
Tip #2: Make eye contact
If you don’t turn away from your audience to read your slides, you’re looking at them. I encourage making eye contact with as many people in the audience as possible. To do this, fix your gaze on one person for five or six seconds. By doing this, you are communicating more than just eye contact. Eye contact means spending time with everyone and making them feel like you’re just talking to them. It also means actually seeing people. The audience is no longer just an ugly face. When you really look at people, you will notice their facial expressions and reactions to what you say. This will tell you if they are engaged or if their attention is waning: a useful suggestion if you need to make adjustments.
Tip #3: Don’t forget to talk!
There is a third problem with reading your slides. Your voice will naturally smooth out as you read the bullet points on the slide. Soon you will fall. Therefore, the speed of speech and tone of voice should be changed. The best way to do this is to imagine that you are having a one-on-one conversation. When you talk to just one person, your conversation is different. It’s easier than trying to change tone and pace while giving a speech. A final word: you need to make your voice heard so that even the people in the back row can hear you. To do this, think of yourself as addressing your slightly dumb aunt.
Tip #4: Gesture
Please reconsider how you are when you speak alone. Not only will the tone and speed of your voice change naturally, but so will your gestures. Gesture naturally refers to the purposeful and purposeful use of the hands. It also means keeping your hand at your side when not making a gesture. If you’re an introvert, I suggest you imagine yourself having an animated conversation. The key here is that your gestures complement what you’re saying and give your message more persuasive power. You will also look more confident. There’s even evidence that natural gestures make you more fluent.
Tip #5: pause
Have you heard the public speaking advice that it’s good to take a break? If not, I’ll back up and give you a good reason to pause. Think of water flowing continuously from a pipe. Just as it is difficult to drink all the water that flows from a pipe, it is difficult to process words that flow continuously. Just like we need holes to swallow water, we need holes to process words.
Pay attention to the written information. There are phrases, commas, sentences, periods, bulleted lists, and paragraphs. They divide information into discrete parts. Now imagine a page filled with a continuous stream of words. You would raise your hands in fear.
And for verbal messages: For the audience, it’s better if the words have separate parts. This technique is called “wrapping”. Fill-in refers to speaking in a rhythm that delivers short silent phrases between parts of speech.
There is real scientific evidence that audiences love pauses because during those pauses they can process what you just said. A study of people listening to classical music while having their brains scanned by an MRI machine shows that their brains light up during the silence between movements. This indicates that their brains are actively processing when they are silent.
Here it is. To deliver a successful presentation, you need to be yourself – an animated version of yourself. Someone who resonates with you: someone who is energetic, enthusiastic, excited, someone who looks at the person they are talking to, someone whose voice flows with their message, someone who conveys meaning with their hands, someone who pauses at the end. Of course, to soak up their stories.
In the next and final post, I’ll cover presentation content so your slides can improve your communication and increase the meaning and impact of your message.
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