Public speaking is one of the most essential skills for a successful executive. It is also one of the most feared by the majority of people, especially when it comes to giving presentations.
This fear stems from the fact that some people do not feel comfortable speaking to large groups of people. The fear is founded on the fact that when there are too many people in a group, their perception of the presenter will change and the presenter’s voice, attitudes, and stature will change as well. When there are too many people in a group, their perception of the presenter will change and the presenter’s voice, attitudes, and stature will change as well.
What this all leads to is not public speaking but a less than effective and less than engaging presentation. What a presenter does not realize is that this is a skill that can be taught, especially with the right tools.
We know that while public speaking can be difficult to do, in reality, it is just another skill that can be learned. That is why those who were afraid of public speaking until recently are now very much a part of the arena because they understand that they can learn to speak and to act in front of a large audience.
The primary tool for learning how to speak effectively in front of a large audience is a personal practice. As an executive, you will need to learn to relax and let your “bad days” slide. You will also need to do the proper breathing techniques, which will help to eliminate a lot of nervousness.
The way you look when you are nervous is very much like a duck on the verge of a dive. When your head is tilted, and you’re tensed up, it looks like you are under attack. With this in mind, you should have your head up and your shoulders relaxed.
You want to be sure that your eyes are focused and neither are closed nor unfocused. You should also have your throat in proper alignment, allowing all of your air to go into it as you speak. Most importantly, you should not talk yourself into over-thinking what you’re going to say.
The key is to figure out a good time to speak in your presentation. You don’t want to start too long or so soon, as this will make it appear as if you are nervous.
In addition, you want to pace yourself too. It’s okay to pause in between your points, but not for too long. At the same time, you don’t want to come off as lecturing, so you may choose to lead with a question that you would like to ask.
Of course, the best way to begin learning how to speak well in front of an audience is to get some practice. I recommend finding a place in your home that has a good size room, preferably a conference room, where you can practice in front of a group of people. This is the best way to make sure that you understand how to address people, handle themselves in front of a large group, use the correct body language, and read others correctly.
And, of course, as with any exercise, the better the practice, the better the results. While you may never be perfect, by putting in the time and the effort, you will find that as you put more time and effort into the practice, you can improve your skills and that you will be more confident in your public speaking.