Some people are natural public speakers but many of us aren’t. However we feel about giving speeches or talks to an audience, we can increase the likelihood of giving a confident and engaging performance by preparing well for the occasion and following a few simple steps before we take to the stage.
1. Take a Walk
Switch yourself on for peak performance by checking into the venue early and then going for a walk before you’re due on stage, even if it’s within the building itself.
2. Have a Routine
It’s important to have some sort of pre-“show” routine, even if it’s just going to the bathroom and having a stretch.
3. Have a Nap
Get as relaxed and refreshed as possible before the event begins. Some speakers even lie on the floor for 10 minutes beforehand.
4. Fuel Yourself
Eat enough food before your speech so that your blood sugar doesn’t suddenly drop, resulting in you running out of steam mid-talk.
5. Be Hydrated
When you’re about to give a big talk, keep the nerves away by keeping hydrated. Avoid coffee and tea as caffeine can dehydrate you. Opt for water or juice instead.
Try this simple pre-performance exercise. Stand or sit up straight and breathe in, filling your chest cavity with air. Your mind and body will feel better and your pulse will slow down as you take that breath in.
7. Test Out Your Vocal Chords
Warm up your voice and make sure everything is in working order. Try making the sound of a siren or humming.
8. Keep Your Hips Still
When you stand up to speak, keep your hips solid. Don’t move them. If your hips move, everything moves. If you see someone who’s shuffling from one foot to the other when they’re meant to be standing still, it’s their hips that are moving. If your hips are static, it’s difficult to move anything beyond your hands or your face. If you want an example of this, watch the weather forecasters on the news. They’re brilliant at standing still.
9. Thank Your Introducer and Audience
After the compere has introduced you to the audience, thank him or her for the introduction as you take the stage. Be sure to look them in the eye as you do so. If you like, you can shake their hand warmly. When you’ve done that, turn to the audience and thank them for being there. You can also add how delighted you are to be there. By expressing your gratitude to and appreciation of everyone present, you’re setting a warm, positive tone for what is to come.
10. Lock Eyes
As you start your speech to the audience, pick out one audience member and lock eyes with them. Move your eyes from person to person as you continue talking. Why? You want to make eye contact with as many people as possible, as eye contact is one of the most powerful ways of engaging an audience.
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