Public speaking can be daunting for anyone, but increasingly those who have strong skills in these areas are elevating their career through public events, networking meetings and social media.
It can be tempting to let someone else take the reins when you are not comfortable leading a discussion or presentation, or being interviewed; but people associate the face of a brand or company with its success, so you could be missing out on a great opportunity if you are not willing to step up to the plate.
Giving a speech or imparting information in your own language is bad enough, but when you need to do it in another language it can seem even more daunting. Here are five suggestions for how to stand out and nail each public speaking and face-to-face opportunity.
1. Plan and Rehearse
It's tempting - particularly when you know your message well - to show up to events and just improvise, or wing it, but by doing this you are going to miss out on some great opportunities to interrogate your material, draw connections, and anticipate questions and potential problems. The best speakers in the world rehearse every word of what they are going to say and practice the delivery - what parts they want to stress, and where and how to deliver information impactfully.
2. Think Themes
The human mind works by connecting ideas and grouping concepts together, so consider creating a theme for your presentation or speech. This way you can link metaphors and imagery to create a succinct and memorable message. What can you connect with the name of your product, or point? Connect your tagline to the way you present statistics.
3. Be Theatrical
Don’t be afraid to add some theatrical elements to your presentation - a surprising movement or demonstration can liven things up for your audience and keep them in the palm of your hand. Are you showcasing how small something is? – Produce it from somewhere tiny that we wouldn’t expect. Why tell us something when you can find a way to show it? Think Steve Jobs pulling the floppy disk from the pocket of his shirt!
4. Survey the Space
Think about how your ‘performance’ space can enhance what you are saying, and how you might be able to arrange the space differently to what might be expected - Steve Jobs was known for launching new products in theatrical venues so it really felt like an event. Speaking of the outdoors, can you have some plants or natural objects inside? Animals? What's it like if everyone is facing the window? There are so many possibilities to think about.
5. Engage with Your Audience
Involve your audience early on - start by asking a question and wait for answers. When something is being asked of people they are much more engaged and feel valued. If you are talking to a small group, try to let everyone hear their own voice in the first few minutes of the meeting. The last thing you want are passive observers, who feel they are being talked at and lectured.
If you have huge fears of public speaking or face-to-face meetings, you might want to consider joining your local Toastmasters, a debating society or taking a class in drama or theatre where facilitators can teach you techniques to build your confidence and deal with holding focus and using your voice.
Hopefully, these tips will give you some imaginative ideas to make your public life and opportunities more exciting. Good luck!