If you want to make a lasting impression on your audience, stay in character even after you have delivered your closing statement. Do the following:
- Hold yourself accountable for your words. Stick around to answer questions, address concerns, pose for pictures or simply chat with audience members. If you don’t run and hide immediately following your presentation, you’ll show that you stand behind your words—enough so to face any negativity that might be headed your way.
- Keep your performer face on. During those minutes following your presentation, maintain the professionalism you exhibited on stage. When people congratulate you on a job well done, graciously accept. Don’t point out your flaws or talk about how nervous you were. You don’t want to diminish the audience’s perception of you with self-deprecating comments.
- Follow up. Find a good reason to contact attendees following the presentation. If you didn’t know something during the presentation, send an email with the answer. Or mail or email audience members additional information relevant to the presentation. One easy way to make that connection is to resend electronic copies of the presentation visuals.
Note: Whenever you do reach out to audience members, invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn or to follow you on Facebook or Twitter.
To improve your speech, take a video of yourself practicing. As you watch, choose a 60-second portion that you would like to improve. Concentrate heavily on just that section until you’ve achieved the results you want. Move on to another portion, improving your delivery one minute at a time.
— Adapted from “Improve Your Presentations and Public Speaking 60 Seconds at a Time,” Melanie Pinola, http://www.lifehacker.com.
Improve the quality of your presentations by specifically asking your audience for feedback on what you did and didn’t do well.
Example: Create a slide that asks for opinions on which parts of your presentation could be shortened or lengthened, and insert it at the very end of your deck, right before you give out your contact information.
Tailor the slide to the audience, and avoid requesting generic feedback. Ask participants to email you directly or to speak with you after the presentation to share their thoughts. Then incorporate what you learn into the next version of your presentation.
Want to break into the world of public speaking or to increase your exposure and become a sought-after speaker? These tips will show you how:
- Start small. You should not start by speaking in front of large audiences; increase your skills and comfort level by speaking to small, local groups as much as possible. As your confidence grows, you can expand your reach. Expect to speak for free until you have proven your value and expertise.
- Look for “crumbs.” As more experienced speakers become busy, their schedules often cannot accommodate all the event requests they receive. Build close relationships with one or two speakers who are a bit more experienced than you are. Ask them to mentor you, and watch them present so you can see what works and learn from their mistakes.
Let them know you are available to cover for them, and ask them if they would feel comfortable recommending you for assignments they cannot accept. You can repay the favor by running their resource table when they speak or by promoting their books and services when you speak in their place.
— Adapted from “Quick Tips for Beginning Speakers,” Rob Eagar, Wildfire Marketing, www.startawildfire.com.
The emcee has finished introducing you, and the audience is waiting. What next? Take these steps before you launch your presentation:
- Take the lectern with confidence. If you move slowly, your audience could assume that you are nervous, anxious or indifferent. Walk too quickly, though, and they will interpret your pace as overconfidence. Best bet: Approach the lectern about 25% faster than you normally walk. That conveys the impression that you are excited to be speaking to this audience and that you are eager to begin.
- Smile as you walk. Smile at your introducer, and that person is likely to smile back. Smile at your audience, and many people will smile in return. You will have built a roomful of rapport before you ever speak a word.
- Wait. Shake hands with the person who introduced you, and then wait until that person takes a seat before you say anything. Reason: If distractions occur during the person’s trip to his or her seat, the audience will not be distracted from your opening words.
- Respond to your introduction. Build a bridge from the introduction to your presentation. Include a greeting for your audience and briefly engage your listeners with a little “small talk” about their location or your experience with their organization. That allows you to build further rapport so that you will have the audience on your side as you transition into your presentation.
— Adapted from “Six Surefire Actions To Take After You’re Introduced,” Allan Misch, No Sweat Speaking Ezine, www.nosweatspeaking.com.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdlasica
Especially when I am excited about something, I tend to make pretty wild gestures with my hands. More than once I’ve noticed a person’s eyes follow the movement of my hands, as opposed to maintaining eye contact with me. It’s my signal to tone it down a notch, and it is something that I have to work at.
I love the following video from the public-speaking experts over at SpeakFirst. It tells you exactly what to do with your hands to appear confident and comfortable.
Are you a fan of the wild gesture? Or do you find it distracting?
Appear calm and confident when speaking to a group. Make your presentation sound like a conversation, with these techniques:
- Know the topics cold. Practice until the words flow from you effortlessly, with no notes if possible.
- Slow down. People tend to speak faster when they are nervous, so take your time. Remember that pauses are a natural part of a conversation.
- Use an audio system. Don’t strain yourself to speak loudly.
- Talk to one person. Instead of thinking of all the people in the room, address yourself to one person at a time as you make eye contact. Then move to another person.
- Set your hands free. Allow your hands to move naturally, unless you have any nervous habits with them. In most conversations your hands rest comfortably at your side until you are emphasizing a point.
Remember: The more times you speak in front of a group, the more comfortable it will become. Take advantage of opportunities to practice presenting.