Cet article est aussi disponible sur Le Cahier
Thanks to the work I do, I am frequently presented with opportunities to address a crowd; be it at a special event, congress, university, etc. I am quite accustomed by now to public speaking; it doesn’t stress me in the least and dare I say that I actually enjoy it! However, not everyone feels the way I do. Having to address a crowd has caused many a restless night. Public speaking is a skill that can be learned…
I’ve always enjoyed being in front of a crowd. Delivering an oral presentation when I was in elementary school was always a source of joy for me. I looked forward to those occasions; practicing my speech until I knew it by heart. For me, it was like playing a role in a play. Whereas most of the kids seemed terrified, I actually felt more at ease standing at the front of the class. The high I experienced in those moments was addictive. I felt the very same way when I started speaking at various conferences in my early twenties. I was, once again, in my element. Today, I’d like to share a few tips with you that I learned over the years.
1. Always remember why you’re there
There’s a reason why you were invited to speak. Perhaps it was to share your knowledge and expertise on a particular subject or maybe it was to talk about a personal experience. The people who came to listen to you are there because they want to learn and understand and you’re there to provide a service. This positive frame of mind will better position you to provide the service you were hired to deliver. You’ll share your knowledge, expertise and experiences because you genuinely want to, not just because you’re being paid, and your audience will intuitively sense the difference.
2. Be humble
Once you’ve established why you’ll addressing an audience, it’s important to remember that you’re only human, and as such, you might make a mistake or fumble momentarily. Maybe you’ll lose your balance and trip as you make your way on-stage in your high heels. Would that really be the end of the world? Of course not. If Jennifer Lawrence can make light of her very public tumble at the Oscars, you can too! Just remember… you’re only human. Simply acknowledge any awkward moments, have a chuckle, and move on.
3. Don’t over-prepare
The need to be well prepared to speak in front of an audience can never be repeated too often. Improvising an hour long presentation like you did when you were in high school is definitely not advisable. It’s important to know how to deliver key bits of information. Well prepared visual aides such as slides should work in tandem with oral repetition to underscore key information. I’m not saying that you need to know everything by heart, to each his own, but you do need to have a plan.
4. Wear comfortable clothing
It might sound silly but it’s true. You’re a man who sweats a lot under stress? Wear a jacket over your shirt. After all, you don’t want to display your sweat soaked underarms! You’re a woman who’s uncomfortable in high heels? Wear a pair of flats. After all, you don’t want to risk spraining an ankle in an effort to look “all business like”. In other words, make sure your outfit doesn’t undermine your day. Period.
5. Bring cue cards
Prepare concise cue cards with pertinent information you can read at a glance instead of saying “ummm” as you read an entire paragraph to find the statistic you’re looking for. If you’re well prepared, you won’t need crutches. Anyone can experience a momentary lapse of memory due to stress but they can be avoided with well prepared cue cards.
Lastly, keep in mind that people generally don’t give a darn about others. If your public speaking engagement went well, that’s great! However, if you weren’t on your A-game, it REALLY isn’t the end of the world; just get back on track. I promise, people will forget all about your fumble far faster than you will. Good luck!
Your Life is Exhausting!