Have you had the opportunity to speak to a group about your business? Maybe at a leads or networking event? How about pitching a group trip to a large social organization? Your local chamber? An industry event? The PTA?
They say that peoples’ biggest fear is public speaking. They also say their second is death. Seinfeld actually had a bit about this in one of the earlier episodes.
I am not so sure that analogy holds true, but public speaking to many is terrifying. But I think it is needlessly terrifying if you can just keep these 5 things in mind.
Admit You’re Nervous
The key to successful public speaking is to connect with the audience. Since we are all nervous about speaking to a group—admit it and make the connection. You will immediately connect at some level with a majority of your audience.
The added benefit is that admitting it publicly, will help ease your nerves and allow you to move onto the task at hand.
Laugh A Little
Self deprecating humor works like a charm. Depending on your audience, maybe a joke about the butterflies in your stomach will work. Address a person up front and say, “If I pass out, I am relying on you to break my fall. Are you up for it?”
Again, the joke will connect with your audience and ultimately put you at ease.
Make It Real
To really hook your audience, make it personal and make it real. Spewing datum from a brochure will only put them to sleep. Telling someone that a cruise cabin is 700 sf does not connect with anyone. You telling them that your kids threatened to divorce you when you mistakenly booked a 700 sf cabin for 4 people does.
Ignore The Crowd
Well, not really. But, having a conversation one-on-one with someone is a lot easier than speaking to a group. So simply pick those people out. As you work through your presentation, make eye contact and speak directly to an individual. Make your point and move onto another one. It is a silly mental trick, but it works. Additionally, they will likely nod and give you non-verbal reinforcement as you work through your presentation.
When you are sincere and honest, people can tell. Never try to BS your way through a presentation. Know your topic; because in all likelihood, there is someone in the audience who probably also knows the topic. If you are asked a question, answer it honestly. If you do not know the answer—say so. The audience knows you are human and no one expects a speaker to know everything. You will be more credible if you admit that you don’t know and then follow up one-on-one with the information after you have had time to research it.
And of course, if you are an old pro at this…disregard the above and please leave a tip or two in a comment!