By Nicole D’Amico
As communications professionals, public speaking is part of our every day. Whether we’re presenting new business proposals to prospective clients, leading team or client WIPs, networking at events or even acting as a spokesperson on behalf of our clients, public speaking in our industry is unavoidable.
It’s no secret that it can be daunting or can cause severe anxiety, but like anything, with practice and some actionable tools to put in place, you can feel prepared and more comfortable in front of an audience.
1) Know your content
There’s no worse feeling than needing to present something you’re not completely across. Ahead of a presentation, like a new business proposal, be sure to familiarise yourself with the material so that you can confidently spruik the message. If you’ve taken the time to review and research your topic, you should be able to present without reading directly off your notes. This is instantly more engaging and positions you as an expert in the field.
Even if you’ve had more experience in presenting, a quick rehearsal, either alone or with your team, will help smooth out any kinks and ensure a more cohesive presentation. A trial run should warm you up and take some of the anxiety away when you present the second time around.
3) Engage the audience
It might sound odd, but look at particular people as you’re talking, rather that panning the room or worse, looking over their heads. If you can connect with your audience through direct eye contact with a range of individuals, you’ll not only come across more confident, but you’ll be more persuasive. It might sound nerve-racking but ultimately it should make you feel calmer, like you’re having a more intimate conversation with someone rather than speaking at a blur of faces.
4) Body language
When you’re nervous, try to spot your giveaways, before others do. Often, we fidget or play with our hair, some may even get the shakes. The best thing to do is understand your nervous habits and find active ways to subdue them. If you fidget, try holding each end of a pen firmly between your hands, if you’re seated, you can sit on your hands to keep them still and feel more in control. Personally, I’m Italian so I talk with my hands, which actually helps me feel more confident and hopefully hides the shakes.
5) Psych yourself IN
Go into your presentation with a positive mind and try to turn your nervous feelings into excitement. For an added confidence boost, give power posing a try. It’s an incredibly simple but effective tool that greatly impacts our emotions. To power pose, simply place your hands on your hips, keep your chin up and chest out (like Wonder Woman). Studies have found that doing this for just two minutes can raise your testosterone and decrease cortisol, improving your ability to handle stress and appear more confident. Also remember to dress to impress. Wear something that makes you feel confident and powerful, because how you feel often impacts how you project.
I hope these tips help you ahead of your next public speaking venture. Good luck! x