It is said that more people fear public speaking than death. So, here are some basic fundamental presentation?skills that will help anyone who has to stand and speak in front of a crowd. What are the basic things to keep in mind? How do you do it so that you appear relaxed and really deliver the goods?
Isn’t it strange that as soon as we have to speak in front of an audience, many of the simplest and most common activities become onerous or awkward? So how do you stand when you’ve forgotten how? Or suddenly become incapacitated by sweaty palms, incontrollable shaking, and wobbly knees?
First of all BREATHE? then breathe again? then again?
Know that the most important thing is to make yourself comfortable this will always enable you to tell a better story. If you’re working from a secure and grounded place, you will more easily access your preparation, intellect, and imagination, and relaxed even breathing will help you do that. Then you’re home free.
The Mountain Pose (Tadasana) practiced in yoga is a good place to start and a stance that we all do naturally in some variation or another: stand upright with legs about hip width apart, legs straight but not locked, knees soft but not bent. Roll gently back and forth and side to side then settle when you feel your weight evenly distributed on your feet, focus eyes on the near horizon making sure to dip the chin rather than tilt it up, lift your sternum and, at the same time, widen your shoulders and upper back muscles so that they softly release back, arms should hang loosely by your sides. Once this is achieved, you may want to experiment placing one foot slightly in front of the other and adding some turnout for more comfort.
What to do with your body on Video
Many people are unsure what to do with their hands keep them loose and open by your sides unless using them to gesture. Refrain from shoving them in pockets, clasping them tightly together in front of you, or balling them into fists when nerves kick up. Practice letting them be loose so that you can use them more effectively. If you have trouble doing this, practice speaking while holding a heavy book in each hand to prevent yourself from using your hands in habitual but non-demonstrative ways.
Feel free to move about when you are speaking, and don’t get stuck in any one place unless you are confined for technical reasons. Avoid using a podium to hide behind unless you absolutely have to (because the full body tells a better story than the torso alone), but also be careful not to wander aimlessly or pace back and forth frenetically when you are speaking. This is off-putting to an audience. Move as you do in real life. Stand still if needed in order to better press a point, back up to give your audience some space to consider what you’ve just said, move toward them to emphasize an idea, switch direction to indicate a change in thought, etc. Try to be still as much as you can unless you have a reason to move (or ideally to gesture as detailed below).
[Tweet “Your audience picks up conscious and unconscious messages on many channels simultaneously, there’s constant chatter, and you want to control as much of that communication as you can “]
Remember that your audience is likely watching you very intently, and that every little movement conveys a message whether you mean it to do so or not. Your audience picks up conscious and unconscious messages on many channels simultaneously, there’s constant chatter, and you want to control as much of that communication as you can. If you fiddle with coins in your pocket, toy with your hair, or click your pen over and over, you are undermining your message by highlighting your discomfort. If your eyes dart to the door every time you hear it open, your audience will want to focus there too. Keeping your eyes glued to the ground as you speak instead of trying to connect with your audience with an easy and attentive eye gaze makes you seem either afraid, disinterested, or overly self-absorbed, depending on what else is going on at the same time. Make eye contact often even when reading from a script, it’s nice for everyone.
Your body and your voice are powerful tools to enhance communication, and also easily trainable. They can be conditioned just like a muscle to support your storytelling. Many people have difficulty speaking fluently and with ease when they are nervous or unaccustomed to public speaking. You must rehearse regularly out loud and often the more you do, the easier it will get and the better you will perform. Practice alone or on your family and friends, not in front of a mirror.
It’s important that you find your own best voice with a natural sound that has the most vigorous resonance possible, and use that at all times, as much as you can in real life as well as presentation.
Generally, most of us need to slow down when speaking in front of an audience. You still want to be conversational, but slow down. This is particularly true at the beginning of a talk (in front of a handful of people or a thousand) when the audience’s ears need to adjust to the timbre and tone of your voice to understand you better. On very important points, put a little air between the phrases this is a way to alert your audience to pay closer attention to what you’re saying. Don’t run on and on like a runaway train without ever taking a breath. Use pauses occasionally to give your audience a rest as they digest an idea. Be mindful that you don’t collapse vocally in tone or volume at the end of sentences or fall into a regular mind-numbing cadence; both quickly put an audience to sleep.
You Owe it to Your Story to Tell it Right
You’ve spent a tremendous amount of time and effort developing your story. You owe it to yourself to present it in a way that touches, moves and inspires your audience. The good news is that all of these tips are simple behaviors that you can train yourself to add to your presentation skills. And if you do, your story will shine.