And opening your mouth in general
Though I’m relatively young, I’ve done a decent amount of speaking to small and large groups of people (and solo speaking if you count talking to yourself). It is 100% something that you will get better at with practice,so if you feel like you stink at it, don’t get down on yourself. I’ve outlined three of the main points that I believe help me the most when addressing a crowd or executing a presentation. These may not work for everyone, but for what it’s worth, I swear by them.
Nerves are good, learn to love them — I still get nervous when addressing groups of people, and if I didn’t I’d be worried.
Many people think that the reason they bomb is because they’re nervous. You’re wrong. You bombed because you didn’t deal with your nerves properly. Address the fact that the nerves are there, and that they’re good. They keep you on your toes and if you use them the right way, they’ll keep you sharp. Acknowledge that they’re there and use it! Realize that everyone has nerves and that they aren’t going anywhere. I get nervous before every presentation or public speaking event, and I love it. It’s a rush of excitement, I’m about to intrigue people and excite them! And if you bomb, so what? We all bomb. Ask any successful comedian and they’ll tell you that bombing is a part of learning. I remember losing a crowd on multiple occasions. Ya, you feel like a moron at the time, but you learn from it and move past it (not to mention that those end up being the best stories you tell people).
Control your breathing — This goes right alongside with nerves, but I put it as a seperate point because I think it’s one of the most important things to do when speaking.
When you get nervous your heart beats faster and your breathing rate increases. When it gets out of your control, you’re in trouble. The sweats, shakes, cracky voice, short term memory loss, all are effects of out of control breathing. Focus the 5 or 10 minutes before you speak on just your breathing, that’s it. Don’t go over what you’re going to say or do, focus on your lungs. Control it to a pace that is calming. At first it may feel like your heart is beating out of your chest, but that’s fine, keep your breathing rate down. It will make you speak more clearly and will curb shakyhands–syndrome. Take some time and FOCUS, I guarantee this will calm you down.
Remember, it’s just a conversation — When we talk to crowds, we’re talking… that’s it.
You’re not operating on a brain or talking someone off a ledge. Keep in mind that you are simply having a conversation with people who are interested in what you have to say. Don’t be overly technical and don’t be afraid to speak from the heart. People appreciate honesty. If you’re up on stage or at a podium or in front of the members of the board, you’re up there speaking for a reason. You know what you’re talking about, so act like it. Be confident and speak openly. I feel that people sometimes get lost in the fact that they’re in front of everyone, they forget that all they are doing is simply having a conversation. Don’t turn the situation into something that it’s not.
There are many more tricks and tips to being a successful public speaker, but many of them you will need to find out on your own. The only universal solvent for improvement is practice. If you practice you WILL get better, you can take that to the bank.
Title Photo Credit: Wiki