Recently, I was asked to do a speech about public speaking to the National Charity League of New Canaan, which encourages the development of relationships between mothers and daughters. It does a tremendous amount of charity work. I was impressed with the young ladies in the group and was honored to be asked to speak with them.
I want to share with my readers some of the techniques that I use in public speaking that I shared with them. Many people are terrified of public speaking. This is often blamed on the lack of proper training, but I disagree. We all do public speaking every day -- when we talk with colleagues, teachers, friends and strangers. We might not do a lot of speaking to large groups, however, I believe if you can speak to two people, you can speak to 2,500.
Here are a few tips:
Know your audience before you get up in front of them. This way you can gear your message specifically to them.
Don't tell the audience that you are nervous or inexperienced. This will shut them down and they won't listen to you at all.
If you feel nervous, use that energy to your advantage. Take a keep breath, draw the energy into your tummy and go for it.
Speak with passion and from the heart. If you don't believe in what you are talking about, don't speak about it.
Be upbeat, enthusiastic and energetic.
Be sure to make eye contact, but don't stay with one person for too long.
Smile, chuckle and laugh. Audiences love this.
Don't read from notes. Know your subject matter intimately. Learn your presentation and take a few "cheat sheets" with you to keep on topic and to be sure you cover all of the things that the audience is expecting.
Above all, be sincere, authentic and transparent. If you don't know the answer to a question, tell them. Try to think of the presentation as a chat. This takes some of the pressure off and makes it more fun.
So I hope these tips will help you eliminate the fear and make this an opportunity.
Kathy McShane is managing director of Ladies Who Launch, Connecticut. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or ladieswholaunch.com.southwestct.