Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Speaking in Front of a Group

The opportunity and desire to speak in front of a group is feared, dreaded, side-stepped, avoided, and shunned by most people.  For many people, it is the thought that all eyes will be on them.  For others, it is the fear of making a mistake.  The most difficult time for a presenter is overcoming the fear and anxiety that exists right before you stand in front of a group.

What if...
  • I forget what I am going to say?
  • I trip and fall?
  • I laugh?
  • I freeze?
  • I say something stupid?
  • people don't like me?
The bad news is that nervousness and anxiety assoicated with speaking in front of a group doesn't go away.  The good news is that it shows passion and dedication for what you do.  Learning how to deal with the stress and turning the nervousness into constructive energy is vital to success. 

To get started right, make sure you are dressed appropriately and comfortably.  How you feel about your appearance is important to your confidence.  Make sure you know your material.  This cannot be overemphasized!

Next, arrive early to become comfortable with your surroundings and prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.  Make sure you have some time for yourself to focus and relax.

Next, focus on your breathing.  Breathe deeply to help calm your nerves by allowing more oxygen into your system. 

Now you're ready to begin your presentation.  In the first 30 seconds, you will want to grab your audience's attention, make a connection, and introduce your presentation.  Share a story, quote, metaphor, music, or ask engaging questions.

Now you've got their attention.   Keep their interest level high.  Focus on varying your volume, pace, and tone.  Make eye contact. Use conscious movements.  Be enthusiastic!  Enthusiasm is contagious.

Until next time...

Sheryl Tuchman