by Marsha Petrie Sue
Nervous about speaking? Not sure how to come across like an expert? Use these seven tips to help you sharpen your presentation skills.
- Seize the Opportunity. A key building block for developing confidence as a speaker is to speak, and speak often. Seize every opportunity you can, personally and professionally, to speak in public. If someone invites you to “stand up and say a few words,” or you are asked to make a presentation, jump at the chance. Don’t wait to be asked . . . volunteer! Practice makes perfect.
- Use the “as if” principle. If you want to be a persuasive presenter, start acting “as if” you are. Dress, speak, and behave as a confident professional would. Assert your knowledge and expertise by speaking up in meetings, contributing articles to company or trade publications, or positioning yourself as the leader on a specific subject. Remember: what the mind perceives the mind believes! Stop telling yourself that you ‘aren’t a good speaker.’
- You are the expert. If someone asks you to speak or give a presentation, there’s a reason – people perceive you as an authority on a subject and they want to hear what you have to say. Trust yourself as a presenter, and you’ll project confidence. Still not convinced? Try saying this to yourself, “I’m glad I’m here, I’m glad you’re here. I care about you and I know what I know.”
- Meet and greet your audience before you present. A good way to build your confidence (and instill a great first impression) is to arrive early and, as participants enter the room, shake hands, smile, and look them in the eyes. You will be surprised how this exercise rids you of nervousness. It also sets the tone for a relaxed natural delivery, making your presentation seem more like an extended conversation among friendly people. Then you can look for the friendly faces.
- Visualize your success. Before any presentation, mentally walk your body and emotions through your talk. See yourself speaking with confidence and poise. Hear yourself speaking with eloquence. Feel your energy as you stand before an enthusiastic audience. Your body will respond to the pictures you hold in your mind. When it is time to speak, your thoughts and emotions are in control and your comfort zone is established.
- Make anxiety your ally. Many people feel a pounding heart, buckling knees, sweaty palms, a dry mouth, and ‘butterflies. The key to conquering anxiety is not to abolish it, rather to use it effectively. Use your natural physiological reactions to think faster and talk more fluently and with greater intensity. Visualize people approaching you after the presentation and shaking your hand with acknowledgement of a job well done.
- Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse some more. Rehearsal familiarizes your mind and body with the mechanics of presenting. Think of rehearsing as ‘rehearing’ yourself. Practice frees you to focus on the message, not the manner of delivering it. This way, during the real event, you are less self-conscious and more audience-conscious. Rehearse your presentation out loud, even in front of a ‘dress rehearsal’ audience if you can and record the entire speech so you can rehear it.
Marsha Petrie Sue, MBA and former corporate executive, works with companies that want to inspire change, build teams, develop leaders, and improve communication skills.
Marsha Petrie Sue, MBA
Professional Speaker, Best Selling Author and Executive Coach
For information please contact Marcia Snow at firstname.lastname@example.org
602 418-1991 Marsha@MarshaPetrieSue.com