Once you have your story and message right, all that’s left is to deliver it to your audience. I want to take you through some of the tips I take my coaching clients through when prepping them to deliver a speech, presentation or any other big communication moment.
1. Reframe your nerves
Nerves are simply adrenalin and your body’s way of preparing you to perform. Make friends with your nerves, embrace them, and know that their sole purpose is to ready you to take to the stage. Many great performers say they worry more if they don’t feel nervous, in fact they rely heavily on their nerves as a signal they’re ready to perform.
2. There are two myths in presenting
Myth 1: you are going to be perfect
You are not, and that’s an impossible expectation to put on yourself. Firstly, perfection is subjective, and your audience has no idea what perfection means to you, and secondly the only goal you need to aim for is improvement. Every time you take the stage set yourself a speaking goal you would like to improve on and focus on that. It might be something simple but effective, like pausing more frequently.
Myth 2: you must be confident
Feeling confident is unrealistic. Instead aim for certainty. Aim for certainty in your story, aim for certainty that you have practised enough and aim for certainty that you are there for a reason – people want to hear what you have to say.
3. You are not the hero of your presentation
The audience is the hero! You are there to tell them a great story, share some important information or call them to action. They are the reason you are there and by focusing your attention on them, you stop thinking about yourself and how you feel. This can be an absolute game changer to how you approach the stage and help to minimise any self-consciousness.
Remember the audience can’t see what’s going on in your head, and they don’t know what you might be feeling. They’re also not there to judge you. They want you to do well and they want to hear what you have to say.
4. Walk the space
When you show up to speak or present, you need to get there early and walk the space. Move about the stage, stand at the lectern or at the mic, practise walking on and off the stage, where you will have your notes, where your water glass is placed. All these little things familiarise you with the space and can make a world of difference to your comfort level.
5. Make friends with the technical and Audio Visual team
Introduce yourself, thank them for looking after everything and give them your time to help test the mics, lights, camera and your presentation. They literally have your presentation in their hands, and you would be surprised how few presenters even give them the time of day. A supportive tech and AV team when you’re presenting is absolute gold.
6. Put yourself in your audience’s seat
Literally go and sit where your audience will sit and see what they will see. This will give you a whole new perspective about where to stand on stage, where to look and most importantly, how to connect. This is also helpful for camera angles, lighting and if you have an event photographer or are filming the event, you can talk through the best angles.
7. Work out what your pre-game ritual is
Some people like to use up their nervous energy by jumping on the spot or listening to a song that hypes them up. Others like to calm themselves right down by listening to gentle music, meditation and breathing. The only way you know what camp you fall into, is to experiment and find out what works best for you. It also depends on the type of speech or presentation you are giving. Do you need to be high energy, or do you need to be a calming influence?
This is probably the single most important tip. There are two key things to remember about breathing – it will help you prepare to speak, and you have to do it while you are speaking! So many people almost hold their breath while they speak and not only does it make your voice sound really constrained, it also reduces the oxygen flowing through your body and keeping your brain sharp and focused.
So, before you speak take some deep breathes in and let the air out slowly.
- While you are speaking, breathe in at the beginning of a sentence and slowly let the air out as you talk. Pause and take a deep breath if you feel you need to slow down or you are starting to feel breathless.
- Box technique – draw the 4 sides of a box in your head by breathing in for the count of 4, holding your breath for the count of 4, breathing out for 4 and holding your breath out for 4.
9. Pause, pause, pause
It is okay to pause while you speak. What seems to you like an eternity is barely noticeable to your audience, and it makes such a difference to your delivery.
10. Pace yourself
Like pausing, learning to slow the pace you are talking at, minimises ‘fillers’. These are the ums, and ahs, and likes that sometimes fill a person’s speech. By slowing down, you literally allow your brain to catch up with you, clearing your mind and allowing you to focus on the next sentence. It is worth remembering that your listeners are a few seconds behind what you are saying, so you have plenty of time to slow down, pause and pace yourself.
If you want to learn how to be more effective in your communication, and be coached by Lucy, visit our Calm communication ™ page or send us an email hello@theLKBagency.com.au