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“Just imagine the audience naked.”
Easier said than done, right?
It’s the go-to comment that many people receive just before they present to a live audience, but it’s the last thing you should try and do, because we all know that it doesn’t actually work.
Your mind is working overtime to remember what you are supposed to say next, you’re trying to read the audiences faces to see if they like what they’re hearing, and you wish you could curl up on the floor and wait for it all to over and done with right this second.
Well, gone are the days of awkward visuals of your audience. Here are my five tactics to incorporate into the run up to your next big presentation that will have your mind at ease and focusing on clearly getting your communication across to your audience and actually enjoying yourself up on stage.
1. No, it’s not about you.
“But, I’m the one standing on stage, how can it not be about me?”
Well very simply put, you’re not there because you love the sound of your own voice, you’re there with a job to do– entertain, inform or educate the audience. So with that, take the pressure off yourself and focus on getting your information and emotions across to the crowd. If you’re worried about what the audience is thinking, simply put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself, “What questions would they like answered? What background information do I need to give them for my argument to make sense?" And remember, the audience are glad they are not up there speaking on stage, so they will be listening intently to what you have to say and supporting you along the way.
2. The audiences have their articulate listening faces on.
A lot of people have a very unemotional face when they are sitting in the audience, which should actually be described as an articulate listening face. When a person is listening, they are fully present in the moment and not thinking about anything else. That means they probably wont be smiling at you or telling you to continue on talking. You’ve got to remember your audience is busy listening and taking in a whole load of new information; it’s your job to feed it to them by continuing to speak.
3. You won’t forget what you’re going to say.
When you’re on stage talking about your successes in your last financial year, or pitching your business to a new client, you’re talking about knowledge, experiences and emotions only you have felt. No one else shares exactly the same history or memories as you do, and therefore, it’s only a story that you can tell because it only comes from you. You are an expert in whatever subject you are speaking about– be it personal, professional or opinions on events, and you owe it to the world to share your knowledge and experiences; they’re unique to you!
4. Stop thinking in the subjunctive.
We all too easily create scenarios in our head that easily mirror our worst fear– that we might embarrass ourselves. I’d like to propose you stop talking about speeches like they have an uncertain future. If you’re able to control 90% of the presentation, why think about what could go wrong? Your ideas, your words and how you deliver it have all been prepared and rehearsed so there’s very little left to chance. Many organizations reference the 7 P’s: Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance, and this really can be a make or break strategy to be applied to most business scenarios, and one that can be adapted to your public interactions.
5. Give yourself a pep talk.
From motivational quotes, affirmations or listening to your favorite song before you get out of the car in the morning can all help your feel-good factor. By lifting your mental game, you change the way your see yourself, get rid of all the negative comments you’ve conjured up in your head and put the audience at ease that you know the subject matter and what you have to say deserves to be listened to and acted upon accordingly. That also goes for your morning routine; getting in some gentle exercise will settle the nerves that are overflowing, a light breakfast will stabilize your blood sugar and you’ll have time to make sure you’re in comfortable clothes and shoes. Remember, it’s a privilege to address an audience, don’t take it lightly.