By Simon North, Founder of Position Ignition.
Whenever we engage in public speaking, we always want to project the best version of ourselves. Being invited on stage to give a talk is a great opportunity to reveal our authentic selves to others, to influence them and to plant the seeds for long-term relationships of mutual benefit. Here are some tips for making the most of such opportunities.
1. Make an immediate impact
The way you come onto the stage will set the tone for your entire speech. If you want to project yourself as warm, positive and friendly, you must come across as so from the outset. When the compere invites you onto the stage, look into their eyes and shake their hand warmly. This shows the audience from the word go what kind of person you are, a person worth listening to.
2. Connect with the audience
Continue to make a good first impression with the audience members by turning to them and thanking them for being there before you get into your speech. You might also like to add how delighted you yourself are to be there.
3. Remember to breathe
We can all get nervous as we’re giving a big talk. The temptation is to talk too fast, or forget what we’ve planned to say and ramble on instead. Remembering to breathe properly as we speak can help slow our pulse down, calming us down.
4. Project your voice
People are there to hear you talk, so if you want to project yourself effectively you must project your voice effectively. This doesn’t mean shouting. Your voice should be loud enough for the back row to hear, but also clear. If you’re going to be speaking with a microphone, think about how you’re going to have to change your approach to projecting your voice.
5. Vary intonation
Your voice should not only be audible but also interesting to listen to. When we deliver speeches in a monotonous voice, no one in the audience is able to stay awake long enough to appreciate how we’re projecting ourselves. Modulate your voice and try changing the pace from time to time.
6. Hold the audience’s interest
Even if you do have an interesting voice, you won’t necessarily interest the audience unless you make the effort to do so. Even with the driest of subjects you can make a speech – and therefore yourself – appear interesting by being creative about how you approach the topic.
7. Take questions
Projecting yourself to an audience doesn’t mean talking at them the whole time. They’ll be left with a far more memorable impression of you if you give them the opportunity to interact with you. Schedule in breaks in your talk for question and answer sessions where you take questions and comments from the floor.
8. Be a storyteller
People like to see that you’re a real human being with real experiences. They like to see that you’re vulnerable and that they can relate to you. By telling stories that are about you or that you’re very familiar with, you reveal more about yourself to the audience. Audience members learn something about you, your priorities and your values. This will help at least one person listening to identify with you in some way.
9. Adapt your look
Another way to make yourself more relatable to those watching you speak is to try and look like them. For example, if it’s a hot day or you’re in a hot room and everyone else has their suit jacket off, remove your own jacket before taking to the stage.
10. Stick around
If you want to project yourself effectively, it helps to give the audience more to go on than just your speech. Instead of dashing off straight after you finish your talk, stick around after the formal portion of the event comes to an end. Mingle with the people who’ve taken the time to listen to you, listen to their feedback and answer any questions they didn’t get the chance to ask during the formal question and answer sessions.
About the author:
Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition and the Career Ignition Club. Position Ignition is one of the UK’s leading career development and career planning companies. The Career Ignition Club offers a range of career support tools, advice and e-learning materials for its members. Follow Simon North and his team on Twitter @PosIgnition and get more advice from him on their Career Advice Blog.
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