🕴️ Warren Buffet, the most quoted man in business was once terrified of speaking in front of the public. His advice? To be at least 50% better than who you are, learn communication skills - written and verbal.
🧑🎤 Beyonce Knowles had her own coping mechanism to deal with stage fright. She invented her alter-ego Sasha Fierce. Her alter-ego was the confident voice that brought her to the Billboard charts.
📽️ Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t know a single English word when he came to the US. But he focused on improving gradually and celebrating small victories. He visualized himself as a great speaker and took the necessary steps to become the Governor.
In more recent times, podcasts have risen up as a great form of public speaking. I follow some podcasts like Beyond the Self by Africa Brooke. She talks about moving through self-censorship and how important it is to have a voice.
In her recent Instagram post, she said “Direct, assertive, yet a mindful expression is an art form.” Finding a courageous voice takes time. It involves a lot of introspection and willingness to admit your faults.
Quoting her again:
A courageous voice is also about a willingness to listen without holding people hostage to your opinions.
Speaking is an art, and a public speaker is an artist. It also means you can learn it. That’s why public speakers are not born, they make their way to the big stage. Literally.
Stage fright is real. It happens to all the big speakers. And it happened to them before they overcame it.
But great speakers are winners of their battles. And in the words of Shiv Khera “Winners don’t do different things. They do things differently.”
Let’s take a plunge into the unique qualities of extraordinary presenters.
They practice in and out of their comfort zone
While practising your presentation content, the front of mirror is not the only place to do it. You can also try practicing at the venue where you’ll deliver the final presentation. It would give you a better feel for how to create the maximum impact when the day comes.
In fact, you can also try different situations also. For example, try sitting on a chair and talk to yourself looking at the mirror. You can try opening your arms when you need to. Or, when you want to address a serious point, lean in a little.
Trying different settings will make you comfortable. You can mix up and switch down accordingly. When you feel the need to pause and take a breather you can also walk around while you recollect your thoughts.
They utilize the power of voice changes 🔊
The pitch and volume in your speech also play a big role. Notice how the volume of your words changes when you’re nervous. Similarly, when you’re excited, your volume takes a rise too.
Picture and remember all the instances when you were nervous or excited. Your pitch is different when you meet someone new for the first time. Whereas, when you meet someone you know for a long, the voice takes a calm route.
They take inspiration from others to compare and contrast
When you notice such changes try to bring it to your presentation skills. Here’s a trick that you can try:
If you’re getting ready for delivering a speech in a conference, try attending other similar conferences. You can also invest some time watching videos of other to gain some insights and context. It serves two purposes:
- You come to know how others in the same field handle different challenges, and
- You get a feel of the audience’s mood and how it changes throughout the course.
Then you can take notes on how the speaker changes his route when audience starts getting away from the topic. Also, it gives you a chance to add your creative touch to speaker’s points. Maybe, you can play them out in your own presentation later.
They adapt and know their audience 🕺
A good way to take in the feel of your setting and stage is to give yourself plenty of time before the presentation starts. And how can you do that?
You can do that by arriving a little earlier than your scheduled time. Adapting to your environment can give you an idea of how to utilize each part of the room. It gives you a sense of comfort before you start making your audience comfortable in your presence.
It also makes you realise the importance of having control, calm, and composure. If you are not comfortable yourself, it would be difficult to make audience comfortable. They come to listen to you because they believe they can follow you.
They make the best use of props
Take in the different settings around. Such as the microphone, lighting, the space. and any extra props you would need to explain your points. Make sure there aren’t any distractions in the room under your line of sight.
And once the audience comes in and settles in, do one opening exercise to get to know your audience. Start chatting with random people from the audience. It eases you in the room and with people. Also, it makes you more approachable and open.
They are good at involving the audience
They might tell you something that can give you food for thought to add to your points and create more impact. It is also possible that you will create greater impact on some, while you won’t be able to send your message across to others.
So, make sure you understand the context well. Also, you have to understand your audience in the environment. If they don’t get what you want to say you have to ensure that its always the people who make you wait till the end. So, don’t be understood
They visualize every challenge as an opportunity🧘♂️
The effects of positive visualization are immense. Imagining a positive outcome of a scenario is better than beating yourself up while thinking that things could go wrong.
And when you think a better outcome of a scenario, it’s very likely to play out that way. Because when our mind’s vibrations match with our bodies, they work in tandem to deliver a favourable result.
So, instead of thinking
“I am going to mess this up!” think “People are going to feel happy after listening to me”. Imagine you are cracking jokes and the audience is laughing, hooting, and cheering for you.
Positive thoughts can also lead you to serendipity. It means, finding something pleasantly surprising while not looking for it. You can also subscribe to some newsletters to keep yourself on a positive track. Such as James Clear and David Perell.
They anchor themselves in the face of adversities
Do you know what’s the most common fear before speaking in front of people?
Its the fear of judgment. The fear that everyone is just waiting for you to make one mistake so that they can laugh at you. Fortunately, its the exact opposite.
People are not waiting to laugh at you. They probably want to laugh with you. They want to see you make them laugh because they also go through same emotions.
And they find it courageous of you when you come on the stage. They probably relate to the roller-coaster of emotions that you face when you feel nervous and anxious.
A smiling face attracts everyone. Smiles make you more attractive and give you positive body language. It means you’re in tune with your thoughts. Also, its a great magnet that exhibits confidence and enthusiasm. When you feel good about yourself, chances are people watching you also feel good.
Just don’t laugh after every line. But also keep finding answers to “Why so serious?”
They know how to control their jitters
A great piece of advice for controlling those nervous breakdowns is exercise before a presentation.
Nervousness makes your muscles tighten. And that’s why you often find yourself holding your breath. It can also make you talk too fast, and eventually, panic.
Exercising can release those emotions and loosen up a little. It helps you slow down and helps you remember to take some pauses. Pauses also make you more conversational.
So, whenever you feel out of control, take a few deep breaths. Control your pace by taking a nice pause. Keep your cool and just loosen up a little from time to time!
They talk about their experiences and share stories
People might lose interest if it’s only you who’s dishing out information. So, how can you make it two-sided?
Ask questions from the audience. Know what they think. People love putting their opinions out and making themselves heard. Hence, make them feel like they are part of the conversation.
You can ask about their experiences about a certain point in your presentation. You can also create a fun poll to bring some humour. And then relate it with the information you have by presenting that slide immediately.
It makes you a great presenter and a storyteller. Also, be prepared to answer some out-of-syllabus questions!
Final thoughts: Unlock your powers but admit your mistakes
Your power could be as simple as drinking a glass of water to get back your mojo. Or, it could be using a power stance to give yourself a confidence boost.
A fist bump in the air or a Michael Jackson move can give you that adrenaline rush before shooting your shot! 👊
If standing for a long time hurts your legs, try walking around a bit on the stage to recollect your thoughts. Similarly, if you feel you are forgetting a point, don’t shy away from making it obvious. Admit that you forgot what you were saying:
“Excuse me, I think I missed a link there. Can anyone try getting me back in here?”
This way, you also keep the audience in the loop. And you would know if they are following you or not.
All the big presenters today, failed at some point. And they might have kept failing too. But what makes them different is they rose after each time they failed. And many of them also joined public speaking courses to get over their fears.
You could be the next big public presenter!
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