To speak or not to speak?
Your knees are knocking, the sweat is rolling and your heart is beating so fast you feel you might faint. The one part of becoming the new CEO of your company you are dreading is speaking on your expertise at a conference.
How will you speak in front of 300 complete strangers when the most you have spoken to is 8-25 sales reps or committee members around the oval table? They were all people you knew and respected and who respected you. You have the fear that most adults have, Public Speaking. So how do you start?
- Know your audience. Who are they? What are they expecting to get from your speech? How many are coming to the conference? Is this a technical speech requiring audience participation? What companies and associations does the audience come from? Why have they come to hear you?
- Practise, Practise, Practise. Know your material inside and out. Practise out loud, so you have the rhythm of your speech and you will know how to speed up or slow down. Find your style of speaking as you practise. If you are not naturally humorous, do not try humour. If you are using a PowerPoint presentation, practise with it.
- Dress for Success. Forget the herringbone and pinstripes. Leave gramma’s garden on the floor. Keep your outfit monochromatic with a punch of colour in a shirt or necklace. Keep in mind your shoes. The audience of 300, male and female will all see your shoes while you are on stage, no matter how animated you are. Buff and puff your leather shoes.
- Own the Stage. Whether you are speaking in front of a small or a large audience, own the stage. Move around it, forwards, backwards, and sideways. Do not make yourself dizzy, walk with purpose. There is nothing worse than seeing a speaker grip the lectern for 40-60 minutes, wondering if the vortex is sucking them into the ground. Do not forget great eye contact.
- Get a Coach or Mentor. A coach is another speaker, someone trained to take you to the next level. Consider joining a group or association of speakers. Talk to someone you can trust and respect.
You have been given this opportunity, so now take your self-confidence and show them your expertise. Speak with passion, knowledge and from your heart. Remember to smile.