Delivering your ideas and plans can sometimes be frustrating. Experiencing any of the “common-colds” of public speech like sweaty palms and stuttering can only be addressed to one thing – a stage fright. Even though there’s no stage, it’s still hard to get over the initial frights and become a bona fide speaker.
There are ways of getting over all of these and more, of course, and some of the most useful ones will be listed below; but the thing to note before moving forward, is that no one was born perfect. In fact, many successful people have spent months and years of research and rock-bottom speech delivery getting over their own public speaking problems. Main point: it’s okay. Now that that’s out of the way, we will look at tips and tricks on how to address people. Whether it’s a team that’s about to receive their business presentation, or a crowd looking for answers to a common question, surprisingly enough, the same rules apply.
Breaking the (personal) ice – preparing a speech beforehand
This is an often overlooked, though a completely obvious first step towards successful public speaking. Before setting out to deliver words and ideas, the speaker should always prepare a personal “script” beforehand. This helps alleviate some of the fright and gives some confidence to the speech. A mirror or an empty room is always helpful for rehearsal before actually addressing the target audience. Doing it one or two more times just to be sure doesn’t hurt either.
Asking the audience to share – or otherwise called “engaging the audience”
This one is useful for keeping the listeners on the edge of their seats, always on the look-out for the next interaction. Whether it’s a show of hands or asking them to write what they hear, it helps to treat the audience with respect and in return, the speaker is given their attention. Asking them to share a personal opinion or “What they’ve been doing for the past week?” also helps the audience feel important, furthering their attention.
Not starting with slides
It helps to start a meeting off without slides or a presentation due to the simple fact of engaging the listeners first. The speaker should be the center of attention, not the slideshow going in the background. Delivering first few minutes on a more personal scale and using the tip stated above will surely go a long way in maintaining a focused meeting and helping the speaker keep it together.
The speaker is always in charge of maintaining focus. This is why it’s important to notice any potential “leaks” as soon as possible. This could vary from one of the listeners constantly checking their phone to two or more of them whispering while the meeting is on. It’s up to the speaker to fix these leaks quickly and efficiently by engaging the said listeners; whether it’s asking them a question, making a brief pause so they notice the man in charge, moving closer to them or eyeballing them. It’s open to improvisation, but essential in keeping a focused atmosphere.
Believing in the words
This one might be the trickiest of them all. It’s important to believe in not only ourselves, but in the words we’re trying to convey. Yes, the situation in the company is rapidly getting worse, but why would the middle and lower management need to fear and/or panic because of it? The business manager, or the speaker as we’ve referred to in the past paragraphs, is a beacon that everyone looks up to. This is a plus, since people will pay more attention to a person who knows what they’re doing. And this is the key. “Knowing what we’re doing”. If the manager believes every word he delivers, there’s little that can go wrong.
Doing it again and again
The first speech is always the hardest, but also the most memorable. The speaker learns more from his first delivery than from any other that follows. Breaking the ice is hard, but the only way to get over it is to put ourselves out there and not give up when the first stutter happens, or the murmur becomes louder. Thinking on-the-fly is that got business managers into those positions of attention in the first place. Improvisation is the mother of all successful stories. Use it.
The listeners “with a bang” will always carry a lot of weight. Thinking of an inspiring quote or a story that invokes thought will leave the speakers in awe, looking for a way to contribute, to use what they have just heard. The meeting is all about the listeners getting an insight into what to do next, and the business manager is there just to invoke their action. Nothing says “a successful speech” like wide-eyed gazes and applause to top it off.
Alfred Stallion is a regular contributor at many sites and mainly focuses on business related topics. He also writes for London Speaker Bureau, the world’s leading speaker and advisory network.