Speaking in public is hard. It can be a nightmare for many people. The thought of talking in front of people; whether its a handful, a few hundred or a few thousand. It can be daunting, overwhelming and it can even lead to panic attacks.
It is however, something that we all have to do during our careers, whether its to our immediate team, colleagues or to a room full of strangers at a conference.
Recently I took to the stage at an industry event Berlin in front of around 100 people. This was my first time to seriously present in front of strangers. I have previously directed and presented at the Pantiles Fashion Festival in Tunbridge Wells – but I took that to be more of a relaxed presenting style and it wasn’t about promoting my the company I work for.
For my gig in Berlin I knew I needed help. Not to write the presentation but to be able to present with confidence, with certainty and with power. Aly Harrold was recommended to me by the gorgeous Rebecca Hirst of Glorious Wellness after I saw her present at a TedX talk. Her presentation blew me away and I knew I needed Aly in my life.
As an ex singer, Aly knows how to use her voice and she wants to empower women to “step up and shine” through her one-to-one training and workshops. Aly supported me with a great set of exercises to warm up my voice, to energise my body and to get my head and my heart in the right place before my presentation.
Aly also talked me through how to best present the information so that I could connect with a room full of strangers and leave them visibly inspired. I wanted to walk off stage buzzing because I nailed it and Aly was there to make this a truly transformational experience.
So here are some top tips on how to speak publicly;
I was very conscious that since I have a photographic memory; I knew my content for my half hour presentation – but I didn’t want to sound like a robot reading it out. Know your content but also make it fun. Have stories, they captivate your audience and make them feel that they are on a journey with you. Don’t just read out from a script, show you have a passion for your content by sharing it slowly, clearly and with intonation.
I know do a lot of presenting, especially as an Arbonne Independent Consultant (shop here!) I present online, in person and over the phone. I have got to a point of feeling comfortable with this because I practice. Before my presentation in Berlin I practiced to myself, talking out loud, imagining I was presenting to my audience. I practiced with Aly over and over again and I practiced by recording myself. I have a really bad habit of using my hands a lot. I over gesticulate and I didn’t want to do this. By recording my presentation I could see what I was doing and work on how to reduce my talking with my hands so that my voice was stronger in getting the message across. It really works, trust me!
There is nothing I hate more than a presentation deck that is just bullet point overload. Your audience don’t want you to read aloud to them; they want to learn from you. Keep the date fun and engaging; infographics, images, videos and graphs. Share with your audience visually and craft your words around those images to get your message across; they will be much more engaged with your content.
As a young dancer my examiners always used to write on the exam report “Rachel needs to smile more”. Aly even said it whilst I was training with her. I am so busy concentrating on presenting that I forget to smile but it really warms the room. It will give you a response from your audience and it will also show you are relaxed.
Then you must also remember to breathe! When I started my presentation in Berlin, I took a huge deep breath, then I smiled and then I started speaking. Centre yourself, your mind and your body in the room and feel that you are in the zone. Then you will nail your presentation. Breathing will allow your words to flow gently and easily.
Aly has some great tips for centering yourself, from power poses to breathing exercises. You need to be in the moment to make your audience be in the moment with you and your presentation. You can do this!
A final thought for you. It’s important not just to speak, you need to speak with a defined purpose. You need to know where you are going and how you are going to get there. Enjoy the journey and your audience will too.