It may come as a surprise to you that presenting a speech can be fun. Yet that was the message at a recent workshop we delivered for Try This Dorchester. The thought of public speaking fills many people with fear or dread. That might be why we only had a small number turn up for a free two hour workshop on the subject. The advantage of only a few was that it allowed participants to actually practice. There is no better way to learn presentation skills than by doing and getting constructive feedback.
What participants wanted to learn
- Finding the fun in presentations
- Some useful tips to improve their presentations
- How to improve voice projection
- Avoiding looking nervous
Finding the fun
We are what we think. If you are telling yourself that ‘you hate presentations’ or ‘you’re a nervous wreck when you present’, guess what you get. The beliefs that we carry will influence our performance. The key is to change your mindset. The first part of the word confidence is ‘con’, so con your brain into believing you love giving presentation. Then fake it ‘til you make it.
TIP 1 – TELL YOURSELF YOU LOVE GIVING PRESENTATIONS AND IT IS FUN.
TIP 2 – ENJOY GIVING PRESENTATIONS – FIND CREATIVE WAYS TO MAKE THEM FUN FOR YOU AND YOUR AUDIENCES WILL ENJOY IT TOO.
TIP 3 – PRESENTATIONS INVOLVE A LOT OF P’S
- Preparation – do your research of what your audience wants to hear and what you need to say to deliver that.
- Purpose – have a clear purpose to inform, inspire, entertain, or whatever
- Practice – practice, practice, and polish
- Passion – if you are not passionate about your topic, why should they be?
- Perform – be larger than life whilst still being real
- Project – use your voice so people can hear you.
How to improve voice projection
The key to good voice projection is breathing. It pays to breathe! Unfortunately when we are nervous, we tend to breathe shallowly in our upper chest. This can prevent good projection. As your confidence grows, so can your voice.
It is also about visualising throwing your voice to the furthest member of the audience. I recommend getting a voice coach to help you, if this is a problem for you.
TIP 4 – DEEP BREATHING USING THE DIAPHRAGM WILL HELP PROJECT YOUR VOICE.
How to avoid looking nervous
If you can keep good confident eye contact with members of your audience, you will look less nervous, despite what might be going on for you internally. Keep focused on them.
Focus and build on the qualities you do have as a speaker and be confident.
TIP 5 – MAINTAIN GOOD EYE CONTACT WITH YOUR WHOLE AUDIENCE
Some Do’s and Don’ts of Presenting
From feedback they had on the workshop, participants created a list of do’s & don’ts.
- Listen to what your audience wants to hear
- Have a clear brief with timings
- Do your research – get the information
- Set the scene and expectations
- Bring humour into what you say and do
- Use words to create a picture
- Have a steady pace – vary your speed and use pauses for impact
- Be grounded with a good stance
- Have good eye contact with the whole audience – involve them
- Smile and use appropriate facial expressions
- Use vocal variety to add emphasis and drama
- Use meaningful hand and body gestures to express meaning
- Have the knowledge of the subject
- Be credible and confident
- Be courageous enough not to use notes
- Tell a story or take your audience on a journey
- End with a bang and not a whimper
- Tell (talk at) or patronise
- Miss people out with eye contact
- Speak too quietly
- Turn away from the audience when speaking
- Speak too quickly
- Go into your head for ideas and disengage from the audience
- Apologise for forgetting to say something or for not being very good at public speaking
- Sway from side to side
- Have distracting hand gestures
Whatever your reason for presenting a speech, whether for work, pleasure or an important occasion, you can make it fun, if you choose to.
TIP 7 – GO OUT THERE AND HAVE FUN BEING THE BEST PRESENTER YOU CAN BE