Public Speaking and Presenting: What I’ve Learned from Over 20 Years on Stage SmartHustleMagazine

Public Speaking and Presenting: What I’ve Learned from Over 20 Years on Stage

Did you know some people fear public speaking more than they fear just about anything else? It’s true. In fact, so many people avoid making presentations, speeches, and giving talks because they are paralyzed by fear. If you are a small business owner, or someone looking to help grow a business of any size, public speaking skills are a necessity.

Many people have tips and tricks that are supposed to work but let’s face it, you can only pretend the audience is in their underwear for so long before that doesn’t help. Rather than try to psych yourself up with silly antics, it’s better to focus on being fully prepared.

Not only does public speaking improve your business skills; the better you become at speaking in front of people, the better you will become at speaking to people about investing in your business. As someone who has spoken in front of countless audiences on hundreds of topics, I want to share a few of my tried and true tips.

Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is essential when speaking. Think about it: do you speak to children the same way you speak to your friends? Most likely, you don’t. Your manner of speaking, level of formality and stature may change drastically depending on who your audience is.

If you’re talking to experts of the subject matter or newcomers, you will need to adjust your presentation accordingly. With experts, you can use formal jargon, lingo, and acronyms.  But, be extra careful to cross-check all of your facts. You’ll also need to focus on potential questions you could encounter since the audience is familiar with the information you are presenting.

Using industry jargon, acronyms, and dropping industry insider information will be lost on newbies. You won’t have to go back and re-explain anything if you are clear from the beginning. Brainstorm potential questions that someone new to the subject may have, and practice those answers.

Own the Stage

Don’t hide behind the podium or microphone. Use the stage or area you are given to its full extent. If you walk around the stage or speaking area, you’ll appear more confident and your audience will take note. You will also be able to engage with the audience more, allowing you to become more comfortable while presenting. (Apply this to situations like training your employees - you want the trainer to be engaging and inviting.) Hiding behind the podium or mic will only hinder your ability to present more eloquently and confidently. Keep in mind: moving around means you won’t be able to rely on notes-- so, you have to know your stuff.

Keep Your Presentation Interesting

You need to be sure that you’re presenting your information in a way that is clear, easy to view, and concise. Have you ever attended a conference, class, or presentation where the speaker has paragraph after paragraph of text on their slides? Death by Powerpoint is a real concept, and you don’t want to fall victim to overly wordy slides. If you do, your audience will be reading, not listening - or even worse, snoozing in no time.

If you struggle with creating your own presentations, or perhaps you simply hate the tedious work, you should consider using Beautiful.ai, a program that does the heavy lifting for you. Rather than tinker with the design details of a presentation, you can use their smart templates to create your presentation in a snap. This frees up your time to get in additional practice so that you can confidently present your information to the audience.

Keep the Focus on You

Public Speaking is a time when you’re meant to be the center of attention. Sure, you may have a nice and neat set of slides behind you, but those are just supplementary to the knowledge and information you’re there to impart. Even if your slides contain vital charts and graphs, remember that you are the person who crunched the numbers and gathered the insight, so you are the primary source of information for the sake of the presentation.

Your slides won’t answer questions at the end, you will. Yes, everyone is staring at you. But, it’s because they want to hear what you have to say. You have the insight to provide and you are the holder of the key intelligence.  

Get to Know the Crew

Picture this: you are nervous for a presentation, and you take the stage and… boom! No sound. Ouch... You hate to see that. I recommend getting to know the equipment ahead of time and getting familiar with the sound and tech team so you can discuss what you need during your presentation. They are there to help you, so use them as the valuable resource they are!

You’ll be a Presenting Pro in No Time!

One last bit of advice is to practice. Practicing your presentation prepares you for the real deal. Each and every time. It doesn’t matter if you’ve given the presentation ten times over, practice at least once before each actual speaking event to keep yourself fresh and familiar.

Try not to let a technical issue make you fumble during your presentation or speech. Practice in front of a trusted colleague or friend and ask them to introduce distractions. Tiny blips happen to the best of us, and your audience will understand. If something does occur, politely and professionally apologize, attempt to get the issue corrected, and continue about your presentation. If the issue cannot be fixed, go about your presentation to the best of your ability. Rather than think less of your presentation, the audience is more likely to appreciate your professionalism and poise.

Follow all of this tips and you’ll be a presentation professional in no time at all! If you’ve got the speaking part down but want your presentation deck to steal the show, check out Beautiful.ai