About to step on stage at your first speaking gig? Launching your first event or running a workshop? Want to wow your crowd, stand tall in the spotlight and present like a total pro?
You – YES you! – can grab your audience and keep them hanging on your every word.
Dynamic delivery and that potent, magnetic energy of a power presenter is something anyone can learn; there’s a reason we call it ‘presentation skills’, not ‘presentation gifts’.
Powerful presentation is a skill, it’s something you cultivate and develop, and even the BEST presenters in the world, the ones who make it look super easy and natural, have put in the time to hone those skills.
Today I‘ve got some of my top insider tips that will help you feel uber confident stepping into the spotlight so you can nail your next gig, whether it’s an intimate workshop or a stadium event.
#1 - Stand strong
Your ‘non-verbal’ communications (posture, stance etc) have a huge impact on the impression you create with others, and more importantly, actually effect how you feel about and within yourself. Check out Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on Power Posing if you haven’t already seen it – in a nutshell, powerful posture and a powerful stance changes the hormones released by the brain to help us feel and be more assertive, confident and comfortable within as little as two minutes.
Create the sense that you're in command of the room. Feel strong, centred and in control and give your self-confidence a good ol’ boost by starting with the way you stand.
Stand with your feet firmly planted on the ground a little wider than hips-width. Make sure your weight is evenly spread between both feet (no crossed ankles or one sticky-outty hip), and if you’re prone to rocking back and forward a little when you’re standing, pop one foot just slightly in front of the other.
Open up across your chest, across your heart centre, with your shoulders back and down towards your heels. Imagine a line of fishing wire is running from the centre of your scalp up to the roof, lifting you up through your spine, drawing your back long and tall.
SERIOUSLY! Is this the best kept secret ever, or what! Two minutes standing like wonder woman is all it takes to make you feel every bit the super hero!
It sounds so simple, and that’s because it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an incredibly potent (and scientifically proven) strategy for upping your confidence, which then increases your ability to be present, to be authentic, to concentrate and to give more of yourself which magnetically draws people in.
You know what, don’t just reserve this for times when you’re presenting – this baby is like coconut yoghurt, it’s always awesome in any situation! :)
Got a difficult conversation to have, or a tricky email to write? Make sure you’re sitting in a strong position, straight back, feet firmly on the floor. Or give yourself two minutes to power pose before you get stuck in. Use this as a tool to get your body and your mind primed and ready.
#2 - Handy work
Another essential element of our body language during a presentation is the way we use our hands. Gestures are a key ingredient in keeping your delivery dynamic and your presentation natural and flowing.
Gesticulation - using your hands when you speak - conveys enthusiasm, keeps your own energy up and can help to emphasise the important points you're making. Think of your hands as your verbal punctuation points.
Listing three key actions or insights you want your audience to take away? Count them on your fingers, clearly demonstrating that this is something they don’t want to miss.
Asking a rhetorical question? Open your arms wide and ask it with your body language as well as your words, subconsciously reiterating what you’re saying.
Throw in a fist pump, point to your audience when you’re making a point directly to them, indicate towards yourself when you’re telling a story.
Using your hands freely helps the brain to flow from one point to the next more easily, so take that into account when you’re working out whether you’ll be holding a mic, or note cards or standing behind a lectern.
#3 - Change the melody
Don’t you just love listening to a speaker who drones on in a monotone without inflection or intonation? Yeah, no me either.
Colour and texture within your voice, varying the tone, pitch and speed that you speak with, is super important for continuously drawing your audience in to what you’re saying.
Today’s average attention span is so notoriously short, we’ve got a million distractions available in the palm of our hand and it’s ridiculously easy for people to zone out and start swiping through their phone.
Don't give your audience any opportunity to wander off into daydream land. Using your full vocal range, the highs and the lows, and varying the pace and melody you speak in will help keep your audience drawn in and attentive.
I had a speaking coach once who used to say ‘it’s time to change the song DJ’, in other words shake it up before people start to drift off the dance floor.
One really important element of melody that we so often ignore is the silence between notes.
What could be even more intimidating than standing up in front of an audience and speaking? Standing there and holding the space in silence.
Silence can be sh!t scary when you have a room full of faces staring at you, but it’s also incredibly powerful.
Don't be afraid to pause and take a breath. Give your audience time to absorb the last point you made before charging into the next one.
#4 - Practice, practice, practice
Ultimately, the most effective way of upping your presentation skills to pro-level is to practice.
Practice until you’re so comfortable with your content you don’t have to concentrate on what you’re going to say next, it all just flows smoothly out of you.
Stand in front of the mirror, rope in friends and family, rehearse to your dog, or bring in an expert coach - whatever works for you. Invest the time in getting really familiar with your content and in practicing your delivery.
Practice is the only way to refine the whole show and practice, more than anything else, will build your confidence. When you’re confident your presentation will feel more natural, letting your energy authentically shine through. And there is nothing that captivates an audience more than genuine enthusiasm and passion.