When you give a speech the audience is sizing you up before you ever open your mouth, so it’s important to establish yourself as credible before you begin speaking. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make sure the audience knows who’s in charge before you say a word.
- Be Confident. It’s easy to say and hard to do, especially when you are scared to death.
- The number one way to be confident when you speak in front of others is to know your material. When you know your speech, your walk to the podium will filled with a sense of purpose instead of a sense of fear.It’s a good idea to plan for adequate practice time to rehearse your speech. How many times? As many times as you need to feel like you know it backward and forward. I have read many articles that say at least 3 times, but I say more like 5 to 10 times before you give a 10 to 20 minute speech.
- As you prepare and practice your speech, prepare and practice your confidence. Set a state of positive self-expectancy by reminding yourself that you will “nail this speech”. Visualize yourself giving the speech in front of your audience and picture them loving it. The clearer you can picture the speech going well in your mind, the better you will feel as you walk up to give it.
- Dress for Success. The old saying goes “Clothes make the (wo)man”. It’s true. Like it or not, people judge your credibility by what you wear. Multiple studies state that speakers who dress equal to or one step up from their audience, are seen as more credible than speakers who dress more casually than their audience. If your audience is wearing jeans, wear slacks. If your audience is business casual, be business formal. Remember we are after credibility here.
- Smile. While the first two points focused on establishing credibility, this point establishes you as a warm and genuine speaker. As soon as you are introduced, start smiling. Make it a natural warm smile, not an over the top forced one. Smiling does 2 things:
- It gives the appearance of ease, naturalness and likability. Why do you think they tell dancer’s to smile?
- It relaxes you and gives you a sense of confidence. Try it right now.
- Look up, put a big smile on your face and then try and be terrified. It’s almost impossible without changing your expression. Smiling relaxes you, so use it.
When you know your material because you have practiced it, when you believe your speech is going to be good, when you are dressed for success and smiling; you give off an energy that your audience will pick up on. Even before you have spoken a word, you’ll have communicated that your speech will be great. Use these 3 tips before your next speech and let me know how it goes. My guess is that your audience will love you.