Are you scared to get in front of a room of people and speak? Or maybe even afraid to introduce yourself to someone new?
For me, college football eased me into speaking. Being a team captain helped, not to mention those guys being my best friends. It became easy to be vocal in front of them. The year following my graduation, I was asked to come back and give a pregame speech, I suppose the team would be left to judge, but I feel I did a good job- they did win. Since then I have wanted to do more public speaking.
Last week I was asked to speak to a collegiate business class. There were 30 people in the room. I did not feel nervous, there are just certain things I struggle with and certain things I feel make speaking easier on myself. These four things definitely helped me and can help any other beginner out there:
1) A thought process, not a script
Obviously you want to be informed on the main topic. You will want to know in front of who you will be speaking and why will they be there to listen to you. After you know that, start to think how you can connect with them. This is what will make them think your talk is interesting instead of getting yawns. The mistake I made in the first minute was trying to be on script. The host had a power point which consisted of what she wanted us to talk about. I also had a few things written down. I suggest not using any aides if you are new to public speaking! Obviously the President of the United States has a scripted speech, but he is a damn good speaker and has some experience. When you are new, a script can make you nervous. The reason it makes you nervous is because when you casually talk to someone, you do not have a list in front of you, you aren’t guided by a power point. Your mind finds those aides to be unnatural. Just talk! Have a thought process, but JUST TALK! There is a reason good speaking classes require the first speech be an improv. I finally just told the class and the host, “I’m sorry, but I am not going to go by this, it will be much more productive.” It got a chuckle out of the class and made me feel better not being tied down by structure. Once I started speaking my mind, speaking what I felt, my words were very fluent and very confident; making it much more comfortable.
2) Tell them what you are doing
You are there to speak for a reason. Tell them what you currently are doing that allows you to be there speaking. To this specific class, I was to talk about entrepreneurship and the transition from college to the “real world.” I talked about my internship, my experience interviewing for a corporate position at Domino’s. I talked about my network marketing business that is very profitable for me. I mentioned how I am currently involved in one real estate property and am looking for another. And then I talked about development of an app and an online communications platform that I am involved with. These things caught the classes attention because it was just a simple story. Stories allow people to relate! I could instantly feel a more intense look in their eyes. This makes it much easier. Once you get going, it is easy to talk about what you do.
3) Make them ask questions
You heard it. Walk around the barrier that sets you apart from your crowd and physically raise someone’s hand in the audience. C’mon…I’m just kidding! 🙂 What I mean is to choose your delivery in a way that gives them a little bit of what they want to hear, but don’t quite spill the beans immediately, then move on. Give them a little, then take it away. Start to tell an interesting part, but just briefly touch on it, then move on. Instantly a hand will go up. I did this when I mentioned our app and where we currently are with it and sure enough; the kid in the back corner threw his hand up. Of all the kids, the one in the back corner! And the participants in the front immediately started giving me suggestions. That’s connecting! If you get people interacting with you, you are now in your most comfortable area of communication. We do this daily!
4) Make them laugh
Whether it is a slight explicative (depending on the crowd), poking fun at yourself, or sharing a comical segment you experienced; making them laugh always helps. It will cool your nerves, it will help the audience further engage themselves. I successfully pulled off all three. Just be sure to not over do it unless you are on Comedy Central.
As I am just beginning to speak here and there, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone as well! Work on it. Develop that skill! Just take a deep breath and talk!!!
Love, hate, comment, debate. What works for you when you speak? Any other advice you can give me!?