Being able to speak in front of a large crowd and host meetings is an essential skill in the MICE industry. You are expected to do it, and do it well. If you find the thought of public speaking intimidating, you are not alone. Mark Twain puts it into perspective for us: “There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.” By identifying that you have a fear of public speaking, you are already taking the first step towards solving it. Here are some of the tricks recommended by industry experts to improve on your public speaking skills.
Be, or Act, Confident
Like a predator stalking its prey, the audience is able to sense the emotions of the speaker. Thus, it is very important to keep your emotions in check when you are presenting your ideas to the crowd.
Amy Cuddy, famous social psychologist who gave a Ted Talk on power of posture did a study that showed that power-posing is able to make us feel more confident. In fact, just the action of smiling, lifting up your chest or putting your hands on your hip alone is able to evoke a sense of confidence that leads to a better presentation. We can harness this confident feeling to deliver a better speech. A powerful posture also makes your audience perceive you as being more confident than you really are.
Maintain Eye Contact
The importance of eye contact has been expounded countless of time; it makes the audience feel like they have a personal connection to you. This will allow you to steer the conversation with your masterful presence. Try to maintain eye contact with every individual for at least 3 to 5 seconds before moving on to the next person.
If you find looking into their eyes to be too intimidating, a method that works really well is to look at the person between the eyebrows. It seems as though you are making eye contact with the person even though you are not doing so. Although this is not as effective, at least it does not make you seem elusive or indifferent.
Practice, Practice and Practice some more.
The key to delivering a lip-smacking good presentation is to treat the age-old saying— “practice makes perfect”—as gospel. Even the charismatic Steve Jobs had to run through his speech multiple times before delivering those memorable keynote addresses. Influential introvert, Susan Cain, calls it going out and “speaking dangerously”. Be sure to give your speech the much-needed scrutiny until you know the contents at the back of your hand before the big day. Once you know your material well, you are in good stead to deliver a stellar presentation.
Image Source: Steve Jobs’ keynote address
Tell a Story
If you were look at some of the most popular Ted Talks or speeches ever given, you will find that there is a common thread that links them all together: they all tell a story. I remember when I first came across Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech when I was thirteen years old, at an age notorious for short attention spans and fidgety bodies. From the moment he started, I found myself unable to tear away from the screen until he had finished his speech, as I wanted to hear all about this dream that he had. By telling a story in your presentation, you are able to capture your audience’s attention right from the start as they wait for you to tell them how your story will end. Like all great stories that inspire, your presentation should also have a few key takeaways for them to look forward to.
Image Source: Martin Luther King giving a speech
Some people, introverts in particular, find public speaking to be especially draining. Jonathan Rauch of The Atlantic uses a technique of moments of company and the subsequent alone time to regain his momentum. If you require motivation, this can be something to look forward to after delivering a speech to a large crowd.
Image Source: Solo Yoga
Dale Carnegie, author of the best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People, once said: “There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” Go ahead; take the leap to be improve your public speaking skills. You don’t have to ask the mirror who is the fairest of them all; just look in the mirror, smile, and tell yourself that you have what it takes to deliver a great speech—and watch as you deliver the speech of your dreams.