Your heart is thumping, hands are trembling, and body is perspiring. No, you’re not making your final march down Death Row. (At least I hope you’re not.) You’re waiting anxiously to make a speech to your bosses, colleagues, or friends.
Like me, you’re probably naturally no Tony Robbins. Fortunately, I’ve listed some tips below that will help you think on your feet, add pizzazz, and own the stage during your next presentation.
Thinking on your feet
Scenario: While in a meeting with several senior managers, you’re randomly called on to share your thoughts or recommendations on a topic. Your heart is racing as you search desperately for something to say…anything!
Tip: Buy yourself some time by repeating the question or topic, or taking a sip of water, then take a deep breath and reply.
Why it works: This allows you time to gather your thoughts and calm your nerves before responding.
Adding pizzazz to your speech
Scenario: You’re in a training session listening to some speaker drone on incessantly in a monotonous voice. Meanwhile, you’re contemplating what would be more painful: listening to this guy continue his drab speech or jumping out the window.
Tip: Instead of putting your audience in a coma, you can add some life to your presentation by varying the tone and volume of your speech. For example, if you’re sharing the climatic ending of your story, you can increase the volume of your voice to emphasize the intensity or drama unfolding at that moment.
Owning the stage
Scenario: You’re onstage and because of your paralyzing fear of public speaking, you succumb to ‘swamp feet’ leaving you completely immobile.
Tip: When telling a story with a clear timeline, start your speech at center stage and then slowly move from the left side of the stage to the right as the story progresses. For instance, you’re telling a story about a young woman who has overcome hardship and adversity in her youth to become a successful CEO. You might stand on the left side of the stage as you begin the story of the woman in her youth and then move towards the right as she gradually climbs the corporate ladder.
Why it works: This deliberate movement helps the audience visualize the flow and stages of your story.
(Bonus tip: Remember to thank your audience at the beginning and end of your speech. Oftentimes we get so nervous or hyped up that we forget this important gesture of courtesy.)
So, next time you have to give a speech or speak in public, remember these little tips and with a little practice and confidence, you’ll be captivating your audience like Tony Robbins.
Are there any other public speaking techniques that have worked for you? Share them in the comments section.