Lately I spend a lot of my time in front of an audience, both at speaking events with large audiences and live training events for Fortune 500 companies. But let me be totally transparent with you. As an introvert I used to be so nervous speaking in front of others that I almost made myself sick the week before the big event.
I remember I’d let my energy get very low with negative, self-defeating thoughts.
So when the time came to get up and speak my voice was quivering, my knees were shaking, my mouth went dry and I gave my presentation like a dry sermon.
I didn’t let this stop me! I knew that speaking was a key component of my business-building strategy so I started speaking everywhere I could. I got more and more practice and I experimented with different techniques to see how my audience responded. Just like learning to play tennis, you just get better at it the more you do it, so I got better.
Today, I not only speak myself, I train my clients to give 5-star presentations, ranging from big audiences to critical board of directors’ meetings. My clients know that great presentation skills are key for every business entrepreneur to grow their business.
The problem is many times the leaders I work with are only focusing on the external part of their message, like fine-tuning their PowerPoint or practicing their verbal skills. But they are doing nothing to prepare internally for this process. To become a confident, motivating presenter who gets ask back again, you need to work on your internal energy.
Here are some techniques I use to prepare my clients’ internal energy before speaking:
Visualize Success: Psychologists know that when you prepare in advance through visualization techniques, no matter what happens when you are live you will land on your feet with gravitas. So I encourage my clients to play a movie in the theatre of their mind – where they see themselves giving a dynamic presentation, engaging the audience and achieving the overall results they expected. You need to use all your senses when you do this so both from a conscious and unconscious level you learn to exude confidence.
Pump It Up: You must have a high level of energy to inspire your audience so do an activity right before you present that pumps you up. I listen to my favorite tunes on my IPod. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Psychologist, recommends a power pose for two minute prior to your presentation like the V for victory sign or the Wonder Woman Pose. It may sound strange but try it and you’ll notice a positive shift in your energy.
Breathe: Take a slight pause and take a breath when you’re nervous. To get rid of nervousness before you take the stage, breathe deeply from your lower abdomen. When we get nervous we talk too fast. We need to pause and take a breath from time to time as it gives our audience a chance to catch up with our content.
Focus on Your Audience: Knowing that you have something of great value to share is a key component of speaking. Take the focus off of yourself and put it on serving your audience. You more than anyone has to have a high level of confidence and passion about your products and/or services. As the quote by the late sales training expert Cavett Robert says, “The prospect is persuaded more by the depth of your conviction than he is by the height of your logic.” If you don’t believe in yourself then it leaks out in your presentation.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected: Don’t memorize your presentation word for word. You want to be prepared to adapt to your audience. It’s really important to think ahead about how you will respond to someone who questions or even flat out disagrees with you. If your energy is in the right place you will calmly respond instead of reacting off the cuff. Instead of getting on the defense, you’ll stay open to other’s point of view knowing that sometimes a bit of controversy makes for a powerful, engaged audience.
All of these steps will help you prepare energetically for your presentation. This will give you a confident, charismatic energy and your audience – whether it’s five people or five hundred – will listen closely to what you have to share with them. You’ll get more positive evaluations, you’ll be the buzz long after the presentation is over and the company will hire you again.
You may not feel like you could ever be a natural speaker, but everyone can learn these skills. The Number 1 secret to enhancing your speaking skills is to just start doing it. Let me assure you, you will get more comfortable each time you do it. If you want to work on your presentation skills, or on any other area of your business where you feel your energy is low call 1-800-267-3245 to request a free 30-minute consultation.
Predictable Results™ Assignment
Prior to your next speaking engagement list out five benefits your audience will receive from your content. Think deeply about how what you will be teaching will improve their lives. The more thought you give this, the less likely you will be focused on your own anxiety.
As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified professional image consultant and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Business Coaching, provides leading-edge business building strategies for small business owners & entrepreneurs who wish to take their company to the next level.
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Copyright © 2016, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIM, CPBS
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