From the birth of coworking spaces and startup cultures come an immense demand for tech and marketing conferences all around the world. Now more successful entrepreneurs are getting their organizers filled with bookings for panel discussions, keynote addresses, and corporate presentations. While it may seem easy to know what you want to talk about in public, anxiety often gets the best of us when we find ourselves in a formal setting and in front of people who are expecting to learn a thing or two from what we’re about to say.
This anxiety-inducing dilemma or ‘glossophobia’ haunts more individuals than you can imagine. In fact, the fear of public speaking affects around 75% of the human population. Aside from glossophobia, there are also ever-present challenges on how you can convey your thoughts effectively and interestingly.
If you get booked for a major conference and don’t know the first thing about public speaking, then follow the tips below to help you prepare an effective presentation.
Practice makes perfect.
Rule number one in public speaking is that you have to know what you are talking about. There’s nothing more nerve-racking than being in front of people and not knowing what you’re supposed to say. Rehearse your presentations in front of a mirror or a group of peers. Videotape it if you have to so you can spot the things you’d want to improve on. As much as possible, avoid reading guides when delivering your presentation. You’ll tend to lose your connection with your audience as you focus on your notes. However, you may use talking points written on index cards to give you a hint on the sequences of topics you want to discuss. That is if you don’t have a complementing visual presentation on hand.
Take the assertive stance.
When speaking in a conference, you should be able to convey your thoughts to your audience with confidence and conviction. Your posture counts a lot here and when your audience notices that you are active and enthusiastic, the more you can engage them in your talk. Try to narrow the distance between yourself onstage and your audience by breaking the fourth wall and addressing them directly. Make sure they know you have something important to say and offer interesting anecdotes they can relate to. Don’t mind the people who are standing up for the restrooms or those who are not paying attention. Set your focus on those who are listening intently and continue to assert your ideas for them.
The main goal is to establish a connection with your audience during a presentation. You can do this by exercising a few things. Eye contact makes them comfortable with you, gestures emphasize your points, interacting with them verbally by asking questions makes them feel included, and your use of language lets them know that what you say is for them and no one else. Incorporating these into your presentation will earn you their interest and even encourage them to take part in the discussion.
Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you’ll have to burst into song while doing a presentation. But as how singers use the different ranges of their voices to create melodies, so should you in stressing key points and in delivering important sentences. Be mindful of your volume so that everyone can hear you, speak at the right pace so everyone could follow what you say, and use the right pitch to punctuate your words—high when asking a question, and low when driving a point. Also, adding the right amount of energy and passion to your voice will get your audience to listen to you intently and with interest.
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