Speaking in front of people can be scary to some. Others have no problem public speaking but make common mistakes that take away from their message. I have conducted meetings, MC’d events, taught classes and spoke in front of large groups of people. I’m going to share a few things I was taught and a few things I have learned while speaking.
Set the tone at the beginning. After you say your name start with a story or scene or a question. Choose something with an important message and make sure it fits the topic or situation you are in. If it’s a humorous event, then start with a joke or funny story.
Watch what you say. If you can convey some in one sentence, then do that. Don’t take 3 or 4 sentences to say it. Avoids words like “UM’ and “ah”. You don’t people to tune out. ANd sometimes being succinct keeps people on track and less confused.
Don’t show doubt or apologize. Speak with confidence. You are the expert. Stand up straight and look at people. Smile. If you are reading from something (an iPad or paper), make sure you look up frequently while reading. Never come in and speak negative of yourself and apologize. ” I’m sorry folks. The baby kept me up all night and it took me forever to get here. I may forget some stuff. Please forgive me.” And don’t do it even if you think it is comical. People won’t take you seriously.
Engage the crowd. If it calls for it, make the session interactive. Ask them question that require more than yes and no answers. Make them feel valued. Start a conversation.