As you may know, the number one fear of people is public speaking. Death is number five. But the truth is, audiences really want you to succeed. There are very few things they can’t forgive. I know of only two: don’t be phony, and don’t make them nervous.
“Be authentic,” the experts say. Indeed, authenticity seems to be the value of the moment. The dictionary defines “authentic” as “real,” or “genuine.” In an age of online social networking and dating, people are creating digital versions of themselves, and being yourself seems to be the best way to sell yourself. So when you get up to present your business in front of an audience, resist the impulse to become a “speaker,” that is, using a voice more formal than your own, and taking dramatic pauses. Dead giveaway.
Being real in front of any size audience is really the best way to grow your business. Watch this short video on YouTube to see the 5 reasons why. One of them is it shows your personality. Practice your presentation, so that you are relaxed enough to let your personality come through.
Don’t make your audience nervous; they don’t want to be reminded of their own 8th grade speech class. That means no fidgeting with hands, no pacing back and forth, and no fast, flitting eye contact. Here are 5 tips that I use even after 30 years of professional speaking:
1. Be prepared. Nothing makes you more confident than having a well-worded, humorous speech. (You may need a speech coach – good thing one is close at hand!)
2. Drink lots of water. Stay hydrated to avoid cotton mouth. Have a glass of room temperature water close by. Pet peeve: don’t pull from a water bottle in front of an audience – you’re not at the gym!
3. Exercise to get the excess energy out of the way. Many male readers will remember my presentation skills classes where I made them “drop and give me 10” push-ups before it was their turn to speak.
4. Embrace the endorphins. Nervousness is just energy gone wrong. Focus the energy up and out through the five channels, and you won’t look nervous.
5. Listen to a great song that gets your juices flowing and gets you out of your head. I did this just the other day. I was on my way to Orange County to speak to 150 women, and I hit some heavy traffic. I like being really early, and it looked like that was not gonna happen. I could feel my heart speed up and tingles: the pre-sweat condition in my body. So, I turned on “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, volume all the way up, and started beating my imaginary drum with my right hand and singing at the top of my lungs: “IT GOES ON AND ON AND ON AND ON!” Another favorite: Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” (I dare you to resist screaming to the chorus). One more: “More Than a Feeling” by Boston. The lyrics tell you what to do: “When I’m tired and thinkin’ cold, I hide in my music, forget the day.”
But what if you forget what to say? Here’s a short video to solve that problem.
Remember, the audience is rooting for you! They are so glad you’re up there and they’re not!