“Imagine everyone in the audience with just underwear on,” we are told – but don’t imagine that will bring you all the confidence you need for a winning performance! Instead, just be sure you have ticked the list of the Top 6 Preparations for Successful Public Speaking below.
Just like a film set you can apply some of the stage setting, preparation and rehearsal to your ultimate role in the movie. Think of all the roles that go into making a film, now think of your role as the Lead Star. It takes a team and a methodical set up behind the scenes to make the magic happen. From the director and stage manager to the wardrobe mistress and speech coach, and of course practice practice practice.
Prep 1 – Physiology: Speech coaches have specific exercises you can perform and practice with, warming up before you start. Sentences such as “Top of the tongue, teeth and lips to ensure you deliver with your vowels well rounded and consonants crisp and clear.” To release stress jump up and down sway your arms from side to side, and let go of any tension and trapped emotion.
Prep 2 – Emotional connection: Studies show that in presentations how we deliver in terms of voice and posture make up 93% of the impact of a speech. Only 7% is the actual words. Practice out loud as often as possible, if you can record yourself on a smart phone you will be able to direct yourself and write an ’emotions script’ to go with the words. This way you can pinpoint where you can evoke reaction and connection with the audience, enhancing through facial expressions or pauses for contemplation.
Prep 3 – Notes: Ideally you should not be using any notes. If you must, then use maybe ten keywords on one or more postcards. And make sure all the pages are numbered in case you drop them! If you have written a script then, with repetition, you may find that the words will be committed to memory which will allow you to focus on delivery. In any case, the more you use a script the less likely you will be able to tailor your presentation to the reactions of your audience. Whether you use a tablet or paper make sure it all looks professional and larger than normal print so you are not peering at it!
Prep 4 – Impression: Plan your outfit ahead of time; every detail is important here, from the undergarments to the clothes on top; think about who your audience is, if you need to present authority then dress for the part. You have to feel confident before you start speaking, one of the easiest ways is through your clothes. When actors are reading for a part they often start with clothing as the character develops through the way the clothes make them feel; dressed up to the nines you may see physiological changes, straightening of the back, head held high: if you have a comfy sweater on you may relax and slick the shoulders. I often find that drawing on a persona helps with delivery, think about who you admire and model your actions on how they would present.
Prep 5 – Environment: Where possible visit the venue where you will be speaking. An NLP exercise is to physically draw a timeline and walk through the paces of getting up from your chair walking to the front and turning to the audience. Or if that is not possible visualise yourself making these steps. Breathing exercises also help, so you don’t forget to take a breath.
Break glass in case of Emergency
Prep 6 – Physiological problems: If you find your heart begins to race, your hands are sweaty or your mind goes blank, this exercise when practiced will guarantee calmness and confidence when you need it:
Close your eyes relax your tongue, breath deeply from the diaphragm and allow the emotion to pass, next think about a time where you have felt great, amazing and happy…turn up the colours, give it sound if it’s a moving picture, watch it like a film where you are in the audience. Now make an “O” sign with your thumb and forefinger, feel those good feelings inside, and harness that feeling whilst feeling the pressure of your fingertips.
This is called an NLP anchor, by repeating this process you will be able to activate good thoughts and feelings at the moment you need it.
So now you’re ready! Have fun and enjoy your presentation.