Standing up and speaking in front of a group of people can be a daunting task for many of us.
The fear of saying something wrong, or having our message fall on an unreceptive audience are anxieties we all experience at some point. Some people seem to be naturally gifted when it comes to communicating to a crowd, but the truth is that it often takes a lot of practice and preparation.
Here are six tips to keep in mind when preparing to speak up:
1. Speak from Your Diaphragm
If you’re ever done an acting class you’ll know that there are many exercises that are done to practice projecting your voice. By just being aware of speaking from your diaphragm and breathing from your belly you can project your voice more clearly and confidently.
2. Don’t Underestimate Your Ideas
Have you ever been afraid to share your opinion because you can’t be sure of the outcome, only to have the person next to you in a meeting say exactly what you wanted to with a positive response? Although there might be a difference in preparation between a meeting and a big speech, just practicing speaking up in informal environments is confidence building in preparation for larger audiences.
3. Accentuate Your Strengths
If you’re more of an introvert, public speaking in front of a big audience can be terrifying. However, the truth is that you can develop an on-stage persona and work to your strengths to make up for the fact that you might not always be comfortable with the idea of speaking in front of hundreds of people. This can include focusing on delivering a clear message and engaging the audience with questions, or if you’re good at telling stories, be sure to share a personal anecdote.
4. Know Your Audience
Focus on the purpose of the presentation, and the fact that the audience are genuinely curious to hear what you have to say on the matter and remember that there will always be participants sitting listening that will be on your side. This fact alone can help you to avoid becoming too anxious over the outcome. If you can take the time to study the seating plan and be able to identify some key points in your presentation that pertain directly to specific listener’s in the crowd then you’ll hopefully gain some allies during the course of your speech.
5. Be Authentic
Even if you feel like you’ll always be nervous when delivering a speech or doing a presentation, being authentic is important to make sure that your audience take you, and what you are trying to say, seriously. Mistakes do happen and things might go wrong during your speech, but by sticking to your message, and being passionate about what you are trying to get across, you can make up for any minor slip ups.
6. Pay Attention to Your Appearance
If you’re preparing for a speech, or an important meeting, it’s vital to be aware of your appearance. This is not only to make sure that you look presentable to a crowd or your superiors, but also to ensure that you feel good about yourself and confident when speaking. This includes making sure you are appropriately dressed and comfortable, as not feeling completely at ease can put you on edge, which your audience will pick up on and which make public speaking more of an anxious experience than is necessary.