5 TIPS FOR PRESENTING TO AN AUDIENCE
Have you ever been an audience member where you are cringing so badly you wish your seat would swallow you whole? The person presenting is sweating bullets and so are you? You’re counting the seconds until the presenter is done so you can take a breath, all the while watching the trainwreck unfold with fascination?
Don’t be that person. I want to give you five things you can do to ensure you are NEVER that person!
Being able to get out in front of an audience, whether it be a large crowd or a more intimate meeting, is daunting. Your goal is to engage and get people interested in what you have to say which means YOU need to be interesting. You need to be interesting, relatable, truthful, inviting and confident. You need to come across with ease and certainty so your audience feels comfortable.
Here are 5 helpful tips for presenting to an audience.
1. Rehearse Your Piece
You must rehearse. It is a rare talent to be able to get out in front of a crowd and amaze them with your cool, calm and collected disposition without having rehearsed once. Practice saying your speech or presentation out loud by reading it. Once you are comfortable with the overall idea behind it begin challenging yourself to say sections by heart. Do this even if you will have palm cards with bullet points to reference. The more confident you are with your presentation the better. Say these words whenever you can. While you are cooking, cleaning, exercising or driving.
Hot tip? Don’t rehearse in front of a mirror. Trying to get through your presentation while watching yourself is unbearable. All you will be thinking is, “do I really look like that?”, “why is my mouth doing that weird thing?”, “why are my eyebrows moving so much?!”
If you want to watch yourself, set up your iPhone and record your speech. That way you can watch yourself back and observe how you went. Don’t get fixated on how you look but rather watch yourself back objectively and ask yourself, “is this interesting?”, “am I engaging” and “do I look relaxed?”
2. Be Yourself
Easier said than done when you have many pairs of eyes pointed your way. Or, a camera in front of your face! How exactly does one ‘be themself’? I’ll be honest, you don’t. Well, not entirely anyway.
You need to find the fine line between who you are, your natural personality, and what is required of your presentation. For example, if you are presenting to a room full of important executive types who are deciding your fate you’ll want to come across with a more formal and professional edge. Or, if you are giving a lecture to university-aged students you might want to bring yourself down to a more casual level.
Think about your audience and what is appropriate for them. Let that inform which aspects of “yourself” you want to utilise for that particular presentation.
3. Use your breath
Actors spend many many hours training their voices and breathing. Using correct breathing is essential for maintaining a healthy strong voice. An important instrument in an actor’s toolkit.
How can you utilise something that is readily available to you? Before you are going to give your presentation take a moment, in private, to do a few rounds of deep breathing. Calming breaths to centre your nerves. Practice this at home and make it part of the presentation.
During your presentation, if you feel yourself losing track or needing a moment, don’t forget to breathe. We always forget to breathe when we are nervous and it is amazing what making a conscious effort to take a breath can do.
Use the power of breathing to centre and calm yourself.
4. Voice record
If you are someone who has trouble remembering by reading you can voice record your speech. That way you can listen back to it and allow the words to become familiar to your ear.
Listen to it whenever you can but also consider listening and reading along. Taking a more focused approach rather than just having it on in the background will really solidify it for you.
5. What do you want from your audience?
Think about what emotional response you want to elicit from your audience. Take the pressure away from YOU and what you’re doing. In the end, it isn’t about you. It’s about how you affect your audience and what action you want them to take after hearing you speak.
Great actors understand this. They know that in the scenes they perform it isn’t about them and how they feel. It is about how the other character feels and how they are being affected.
Making it all about the other person releases huge amounts of pressure from you. Think about why you are saying these words. Often enough, you will respond with something along the lines of, “because I want my audience to…” and if you don’t, use this phrase to find your reasons.
Remember, preparation is everything. The more comfortable you are with your presentation or speech, the better you will present!
Use these tips to help with your next big event and let me know how you go.
Are you considering some coaching to help with your presentation skills? Get in touch and let’s work together on giving you essential skills that will have your audience eating out of the palm of your hand!