Public Speaking Tips #4
Public speaking can be terrifying for some people. This is part of a series of presentation and public speaking tips from CDS. Our tips will hopefully help you to master the basic technical skills of presenting so you can focus on delivering your message. As always, you can call us on 1300 852 552 or contact us to discuss your needs.
Picture Them Naked? (Or In Their Underwear?)
There is an old saying “if you are nervous, picture the audience in their underwear” – or naked if you are more adventurous! But, as someone that has personally presented to large audiences in the past, I’ve never understood this concept. The idea is that you are supposed to feel more comfortable because you have clothes on and they don’t – but it just makes me uncomfortable for them!
Engage The Audience
In my experience it is far more effective to engage the audience on a personal level, however this can be quite challenging. Many people feel comfortable telling a story in a social situation to a small group – for example, at the pub or a party – only to freeze up in front of a large audience. I have found it easier when speaking on stage to simply avoid thinking about the size of the audience and instead just focus on a few of them.
There are always going to be some people that are just not interested in your topic. There will be some people checking their Facebook page or Twitter feed, sending an email or even taking a nap! But the majority will always be interested in what you are saying!
A Simple Technique
I have found the best way to feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience is to find a small number of friendly or interested faces and address just those few directly – blocking out the rest. Three is enough. It might be a friend, colleague or just someone showing interest in your topic.
Find one on the left, one in the middle and one on the right side of the audience and speak directly to them – and only to them. Throughout your talk, turn towards each, make eye contact and ignore everyone else. You will be far enough away that the rest of the audience won’t notice, and the people surrounding the one you are talking to will feel like you are engaging them each individually. It will also make you look like a much more dynamic and interesting presenter when you are shifting your gaze across the audience from time to time rather than staring at your notes or turning your back and looking at the screen.
It is much easier when you feel like its just you and a small group!
Stay tuned for more presentation and public speaking tips in the future and as always, call us on 1300 852 552 or contact us for an obligation free quote!