Nervous about speaking in front of others?

Not all leaders love to speak in public.  Here are five quick tips to soothe your nerves, and two book recommendations.

Two tips that take no time at all, but make a huge difference in the confidence you project and in your effectiveness:

Stand still. Too much walking around makes your audience nervous and projects fear and nervousness.  Also, when you stand still, it’s easier to make eye contact.  If you’re talking longer than five minutes, it makes sense to deliberately move to a different place.  Then stand there, feet shoulder width apart, looking at your audience.

Keep your hands out of your pockets. Always.  No exceptions.  It never makes you look “casual”.  It makes you look unprofessional.

One major tip to alleviate nerves:

Only make eye contact with people who are engaged, looking back. This will calm, and even cheer you.  Ignore phone users, scowlers, and sleepers.  You will not hook them.  Really — even professional speakers follow this advice.

Two concerns about technology:

If you use a mic, hold it appropriately. Some mics are to be held right in front of your mouth.  Some are not.  Clarify by practicing or asking someone in the room ahead of time.  Best – try it out before anyone gets there.  An omni-directional mic held in front of the chin has to get cranked loud to work, generating an unnatural voice sound and increasing the likelihood of feedback.  And that will freak you out.

If you have technology, get there early and totally set it up and test it and leave it set up.  If this is not possible, do not use technology.  The potential for problems is too great, and it will nerve you up.

If you are starting to need to speak publicly more often, check these books out:

Inspire Any Audience: Proven Secrets of the Pros for Powerful Presentations

Secrets of Successful Speakers

There are certainly tons of other pointers, but these basics alone will help you out.  Want to explore this further?  Feel free to write or call me before the next time you get put on the spot.

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