It’s becoming more and more evident that most of us will do and say absolutely anything to ooze confidence on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and any other platform. But what happens when it’s time to show how confident you really are? We speak to Public Speaking coach Emma Stroud as she shares her five tips on how to improve your public speaking skills.
Most people have heard the statistic that the average person is more scared of public speaking than death. But while the thought of public speaking can bring on sweaty palms and a knotted stomach, there are techniques you can employ to help you overcome the fear that might be holding you back.
1. Have confidence in what you have to say
When you’re speaking at an event, don’t forget that you’re there because people want to hear what you have to say. There’s a very good chance that if you’re speaking, you’re considered the expert in that field, so whether you think you’re pointing out the obvious or telling them something they’re not interested in, remember that they’re there for a reason and one of those reasons is to hear you share your knowledge.
‘It’s a funny thing, the more I practice, the luckier I get!’ – Gary Player, Pro Golfer.
There’s not much that this approach doesn’t work on, including public speaking! The more confident you are that you know your material, the less you’ll worry about getting it wrong. Practice wherever and whenever you can, trying to get to the point where you don’t need to look at your notes. It’s fine to have a PowerPoint presentation (as long as it’s not too long) but the better you know your presentation, the more you can focus on talking to, not at, your audience.
Learning breathing techniques can help you not only in overcoming nerves, but in delivering your presentation, including the pace of delivery. Nerves are best managed by developing your breathing practice. The practice is simple – lie on the floor/ bed, or sit on a chair (when you start, lying on the floor or a bed is best), put your hands on your stomach and take a slow, deep breath (measured by your hands moving up when you inhale, down when you exhale). Focus on this. If you do this for ten minutes each day it will not only become a habit, it will become a tool you can access to help you take control of your nerves before delivering presentations.
4. Be Yourself (and Be Comfortable!)
The best speakers are the speakers who are truly themselves. They’re not pretending to be something they’re not – cracking jokes if they’re not naturally comfortable telling jokes or standing in front of you in a suit and high heels if they’re more comfortable in jeans and t-shirt.
The more authentic you are, the more comfortable you are which means the more people will engage with and trust you.
5. Tell a Story
This is one of the most important things to remember when you’re presenting and it helps with your nerves too.
When you’re presenting about something you’re passionate about; your job, your career or your life, make it into a story. That doesn’t mean that you have to lose sight of what it is that you’re there to talk about. It just means that you can illustrate your key points by weaving them into a story. This really brings the presentation to life and, as it’s a story based on something that you’ve experienced, not only will you engage with the story better, your audience will too.
Emma Stroud is Managing Director of The Pitch Perfect Club (www.pitchperfectclub.com), offering presentation training and development to executives who wish to develop and improve their presence across multi platforms.
You can learn more about effective storytelling at ThinkB!G on 8 June 2016, a one day conference where they will share the secrets of effective storytelling and help business owners understand how to use storytelling skills to grow their businesses.
Attendees will benefit from presentations from some of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs and speakers including Lara Morgan, Julia Streets and Randolph Matthews.
The event is sponsored by NatWest and takes place on 8 June from 9am-5pm at 280 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 4RB.
Tickets are £85.00 excl. VAT.
For further information and to book your tickets please visit www.thinkbig.london.