Palms are sweaty, knees weak ahaha no I’m only joking! However in all likely hood you’re not about to jump on stage and have a rap battle with ‘Tha Free World’ but there’s every chance you feel just like B-rabbit right now; you’re sick, sweaty, shaking and about to go on a stage where the attention is on one thing.. YOU!! Whether you’re giving a presentation at work, have a meeting with a new client or giving away your best mate one thing led you here. PUBLIC SPEAKING or the fear of at least.
Join me on a journey as I highlight my top 5 tips to help beginners with their public speak endeavours, we will take an in depth look into some of the things I’ve uncovered and encountered through my experience and how you can put them into practice to become a public speaking pro.
- Are you Nervous?
The dreaded question your asked when something big is about to happen and your trying to play it cool, we all know the feeling whether you felt it on your first day of school or your last job interview nerves can and will consume you… for a short time at least. But for as long as you have felt that feeling you have also felt another, RELIEF. One of the single most valuable feelings a human will ever experience in their life. So, if it eases you just remember that once you have fought through the nerves there is only one thing coming!
Everybody has their own methods of coping with nerves, for me I just jump in at the deep end, example. I’m petrified of flying and in the past 2 years I have been on 14 flights and have a minimum of 6 expected in the next 12 months, I began with headphones in my ears and eyes closed, then on too headphones only and the last time nothing! and I was fine. Instead of letting the fear consume me and say no I just distracted myself, albeit I should have just let myself embrace the clutches of the steel bird with a little more bravery and I would of concurred my fear far sooner – The same can be said for public speaking, I allowed the nerves to overcome me at first and shied away from adding input and value where possible for some time; and now well I just dive straight in and I’m sure my peers wish I would give them a turn to speak when we are together!
Try finding your way of coping with nerves and throw yourself into a few situations where they start to kick in; it helped me no end with day to day anxiety too, so you really you can only gain be giving it a try!
- Word flow, It’s not all about you!
More often than not your public speaking will have nothing to do with you and 95% of your audience will not be there to hear about you or your company’s life story so before you race off at 100mph STOP. – take a second to breath and maybe start with a few questions. face to face selling is more about how you can help the customer; so, qualify what you need to speak about the most! Is it delivery? Is it price? Maybe it’s something else it doesn’t really matter, once you start to get some feedback you will find that the words just seem to flow. Remember there is no need to try and impress just tell them how you can help them. It’s as simple as that.
A skill I find has really helped when trying to improve my word flow is cold calling, each cold call is like a training session for me; I have the same rough introduction and conclusion that I like to use however gauging the audience is the only real way to know how to treat the meat of the conversation… you don’t want to say something wrong and cause yourself more work to turn the conversation round so remember we are all human and we all need a little help whether we admit it or not so try and find common ground with your prospect, something you can empathise with and show compassion towards their needs.
Now finally, although the conversation is not about you per say you always want to lead it. A reluctant or hesitant prospect will try to control the interaction and if not pick apart your presentation, will try to draw to a close early.
- You’re not reading a bedtime story
A little bit hypocritical of me to talk about this one as I just said I have standard open and close lines that I use (As vague as they are). However, you need to understand that nothing is worse than somebody giving a presentation reading from a PowerPoint or a set of notes word for word. More often than not when I prepare a presentation I utilize little to no words and use the power of imagery to showcase the product range and act as a prompt to aid me through the presentation, this tactic removes the broken voiced robot approach to reading off the screen and shows the prospect/customer that your really do know what you’re talking about; Clearly not all products and service are that easy but trying to reduce the amount of text and only really using a presentation for prompts and visual aids I find to be the best way forward, it was also encourage the attendees to listen to your words rather than reading off a projector screen and ignore the extra slices of goodness your letting out. Don’t forget you can utilize this method in one on one situation’s too using a leaflet, flyer or catalogue is a great idea to help keep your mind in check
- Nobody is great the first time around
Stop being so hard on yourself, your expectations are too high. Do you think all the top salesman in the world just smashed it from the offset? No they didn’t, each and every one of them honed their skills from picking up dates to making complaints everything engagement in your life can and will prepare you for the moment you need it most. Just remember it doesn’t matter if it’s 2 or 2000 people there has been people that are better but far more that have been worse. Take a breath, ground yourself and remember that you’re doing better than the people that aren’t giving it a go! What’s the worst that can happen? Really, you can’t lose what you never had; Prospects included! Until you have an order you never had the customer anyway…
- Is she giving me the eye?
It might sound silly but the way you stand has a lot to do with how you are received in a conversation; if your slouch it gives the impression that you are not interested, if you don’t face you audience or look them in the eye it shows that you are scared/unnerved this could give your prospect the impression that you are hiding something or not being 100% honest with them!! So stand up straight, shoulders back and maintain polite eye contact… Don’t stair them out until they feel the need to puff their chest out or ask you to leave. But don’t worry it’s not just your body language that’s under scrutiny, you need to be vigilant for the above signs in your audience and find a way to break it whether you tell a joke, sympathise or cut out some of the boring details it’s up to you to keep them interested in what your saying else they wont take notice of what your talking about… not what you want when your trying to get a sale.
In conclusion you must Practice, Practice and Practice that’s the key; say yes to every speaking engagement and think about how your speaking in the shops, drive through and even during family meals… just believe in yourself it can go a long way.
Please do let me know in the comments about any of your public speaking stories and thanks again guys remember to Bthree.