You have a huge presentation coming up and you’re more than a little bit nervous. How will you make it a speech to remember? Lisa Braithwaite, public speaking coach and author of free e-book 101 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking, offers a few pieces of advice.
Interact with the audience
The best speakers are those people who can create a relationship with their crowd. Braithwaite recommends asking questions and telling stories that are relatable and relevant to the topic at hand.
“We all grew up hearing bedtime stories; it is how we learned about the world,” she says. “We still learn that way. People enjoy hearing stories that they can apply to their own lives.”
Speak with confidence
An audience is more likely to pay attention if you act confidently. This can be difficult if you suffer from stage fright, but as Braithwaite explains, practice makes perfect.
“Find little ways to practice public speaking,” she suggests. “Go to a networking event where you will be required to stand up and give a 30 second introduction. Or do a reading at your church. Or get involved in a committee at your child’s school. Try to get used to being the center of attention.”
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Don’t wait until a few days before your speech to consider its content. Instead, Braithwaite advises public speakers send out an online survey to audience members a few weeks in advance of the event.
“A survey will help you find out what they need, want and care about and tailor your presentation to them,” she says, adding that she likes to use SurveyMonkey to send out her surveys.
Another preparation tip: If you can, always visit the space where you will be presenting ahead of time. It will help you visualize the upcoming event and make you more comfortable, day-of.
Embrace stage fright
Does your heart start to beat quickly and palms begin to sweat just before you go on stage? If so, don’t worry. Almost everyone feels this way, says Braithwaite. The best way to deal with stage fright is to embrace it as part of the process. Accept that you will feel that way, but also know that those feels are easy to manage.
“The best way to manage stage fright is by realizing that an adrenaline rush is actually a good thing,” she says. “Take athletes as an example. Many Olympic athletes feel that if they aren’t at least a little nervous ahead of their event, they won’t do very well. That proves true in business, too.”