2015 Resolution: “I will put myself out there more to grow my business.” Is this your resolution?
As a professional, you have many opportunities to speak in front of groups of people. This could be THE year you do it!
You may have put it off because. . . it’s scary! Research shows public speaking is the number one fear of people. Death is number five. So when you say, “I’d rather die than go up in front of the room,” it has the ring of truth. Almost everyone experiences some degree of nervousness when they have to be a “speaker,” whether it’s a formal presentation in front of a group, presenting information to one decision maker, or being called on in a meeting to answer a question. You feel your heart pounding; your throat constricts, your face feels hot and you’re “on.” For most people this feeling will never go away completely. You may never truly banish the butterflies; the best you can do is “manage” them to fly in a straight line.
Here are some tips to do just that.
We worry about nervousness, but the body produces extra energy at moments of perceived danger, which is normal and good. In primitive times, that energy saved us from wild beasts by enabling us to run faster than we thought possible. We’ve all been awed by tales of moms who experience super-human energy and become strong enough to lift an auto off their suffering child with their bare hands. But that same energy in front of a group can come out as nervousness, which is distracting to the listeners.
The rule is: it’s okay to be nervous, as long as it doesn’t show. How do we hide our knocking knees and quivery voice from our audience? Instead of pushing down your energy, learn to release it. Put more energy behind your message through the five channels of your body. They are eyes, hands, voice, feet and body. Last month, we covered eyes and hands. This month, we’ll focus on the voice, feet, and body.
Voice – Don’t worry about it cracking. People want you to be real. Focus on five qualities:
o Pace – not too fast or too slow.
o Intonation – ups and downs; variety in the voice.
o Tone – attitude or emotion in the voice. Stay clean – you can unwittingly project anger or impatience or insecurity.
o Volume – not too loud or too soft.
o Non-words – get rid of “like,” “really,” “you know,” “okay?” “right?” Trust the silence, but remember to fill it with energy
Feet – Balance your weight on the balls of both feet, not the heels. Be poised like an athlete ready to go when you are channeling energy. Watch out for aimless pacing and the opposite: being planted in one spot may cause you to sway with the suppressed energy. Release energy through the feet. Walk forward a couple of steps if you feel passionate about a point you’re making.
Body – Posture, please. You don’t want to look nervous by being hunched over. Clothes
shouldn’t be distracting either. Make sure they fit. Have someone check you over before
you speak. You can’t see if your collar is turned up in back, but some nitpicker in your
audience will. Make your energy work for you, not against you. When you suppress it, it
comes out as nervousness anyway. Give the energy away through your eyes, hands,
voice, feet and body. Be impassioned about your subject. If you’re not impassioned —
fake it. Managers are people who get the job done whether they feel like it or not.
Professionals are people who speak even when they don’t feel like it. Use your energy to
get those butterflies flying in a straight line, and your audience won’t even know they’re
Watch me on YouTube sharing 3 top secrets for successful speaking.
Speaking can grow your business. The momentary discomfort of the butterflies is worth it.
See me in action speaking on February 25th to a great group in Orange County about speaking to grow your business. WorkingWardrobes.org is a fabulously worthwhile charity. See you there!