You may be an incredibly talented employee, consistently delivering work of the highest standard. But when it comes to addressing a crowd, you’re suddenly a nervous wreck. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! For many people, public speaking is a huge fear – whether it’s addressing 12 people in a boardroom, or presenting your company story on a stage in an auditorium.
But good communication and presentation skills are a huge asset in a corporate environment, so it’s worth working on this skill. If you’re in business, being a good public speaker can be a game changer when it comes to persuasion, making sales and gaining new clients. It’s also vital if you’re aiming to become an impactful leader. And even if you’re not planning on addressing big crowds, being able to make your point clearly and confidently in front of your colleagues can really help your career progression.
It’s worth considering why people are so nervous of speaking in public. I think it stems from the fear of failure and criticism. For example, you might think: “Oh my goodness, what if I stutter, I forget my lines in my speech or I just completely bomb it?” Or, “What are people going to think of me? Am I going to offend someone? Am I going to be perceived as being not that smart?”
Be assured, these are very common thoughts when you are new to speaking in front of people. And let me tell you, these fears don’t really disappear – you just get better at ignoring them, and doing your thing despite them! Here are a few tips to help you own the room the next time you have to speak in public:
- You need to show up as a speaker to give to people: What I mean by this is that you have to show up as someone who wants to serve others. A lot of speakers want to “take”. The limelight and the attention is more important than what they are saying. If your focus is on genuinely wanting to add value to those you speak to, whatever you have to say will be way more impactful.
- Ignore the naysayers: There are always going to be people who are going to discourage you and that’s just the truth. Sometimes I think their negativity is a result of them wishing they had the courage to do what you’re doing. Do your best to “do you”, despite what others say.
- The mirror is your friend: Believe it or not, testing out your speech in front of a mirror has worked wonders for a lot of people. I have been studying and rehearsing for plays and speeches for many years, and always practise in front of the mirror. I can assure you that it works wonders.
- Authenticity is key: This is so important. Your audience can tell whether you are being real or not. Try not to sound scripted or too rehearsed. Remember the main points of the speech and just speak from your heart. Make the real you come alive through your speech.
- Pretend you’re having a conversation: This can make a huge difference. When you pretend that you’re having a conversation with a friend while you’re talking to a room full of people, your speech will flow naturally and you will sound more confident.
- Read the room: You need to have situational awareness, and be prepared to adapt what you have to say. For example, you might have planned a serious talk, but you can see your audience is cheerful and wants to have a laugh – which means it might be a good idea to throw in a funny one-liner or two. You need to be agile enough to adjust what you’re saying, depending on the situation and the audience.
- Take up space: Your body language also tells a story! Don’t close yourself off by folding your arms and staying in one place. Move with power and assertiveness. Own that space. This has a huge effect on how the audience perceives you and your message.
Yumna Aysen is a Life Coach. For more information, visit: Oh Yes It’s Yumi