Speaking at an event is a fantastic opportunity to take ownership of how your brand and its key messaging is presented to the public, but that’s often easier said than done. You may be asked to join a panel discussion, present a key note speech or review the financial year with stakeholders, and in each case, you have a short amount of time to clearly and concisely rely your knowledge and experiences to the audience. Here are five points to keep in mind when you’re preparing to go up on stage:
1. Jot down your key points
Whether it's parts of your mission statement, big statistics from a report or key people you want to recognize, make sure you have the essential details at hand when you’re on stage. You wouldn’t climb Mount Everest without taking a backpack full of supplies, so why sabotage your moment in the spotlight by not taking all the information you need to convey with you? That includes writing down numbers in their full form, so you don’t get confused with zeros, the phonetics to pronounce names and titles that people have.
2. Mic check
If you’re addressing a large audience, your voice is going to need help getting across equally to everyone, so it’s essential you get comfortable with microphones. Find out what you’re going to be speaking with; is it a hand held microphone? Keep your hand gripping the microphone centered on the middle of your chest and in line with your heart. Use the other hand to add weight to the words you are using with gestures. Is it hands free? The battery pack will need to sit in a pocket or onto a belt, and both of your hands need to remain open and relaxed between your belly button and your eye line, not in your pockets! Will you be at a lectern? Remember to keep your body language open so you can translate your ideas and energy to the audience and through the physical barrier. That means using hand gestures that reach forward, and emphasizing your facial movements for emotion.
3. Wear appropriate clothing
If you’re not comfortable being on stage, you may feel you want to blend in and hide in whatever the background color is. That is definitely not going to do you any favors when your audience could be anything from 2 meters to 25 meters away from you. Navy blue and charcoal grey are both a safe bet, but check with the organizer first to see what the set up is. Keep in mind that lighter colors show up sweat patches a lot more, and horizontal stripes can be terribly unflattering. If you’re sitting down on stage, make sure you have appropriate hemlines and trouser lengths, and most of all, embrace your chance to address an audience!
4. Say "thank you"
Once you’ve been introduced onstage, the first thing you need to do is thank the person who introduced you, or acknowledge the event in a complementary light. It may seem like it goes without saying, but the bright lights can turn your brain completely blank. Besides, being appreciative and recognizing others is a win-win situation to be in, and people always remember how you made them feel over what you actually said.
5. Slow down
If you feel like your words and breath are getting away from you, slow down the rate at which you’re speaking to a speed where a person jotting down notes of what you’re saying would be able to follow along. Doing this will allow you to have a chance to actually hear the words that you’re saying, remain in control and let you brain slow down all the processes that are happening simultaneously. By doing this your audience will be able take all your words in, and follow along with all the points you are making, and in turn be able to recall them better once the event has ended.