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I have to stand up and talk to people?

Often in business we find that although it would very beneficial to talk to a group, when that occasion arises, you probably think of one of these two options:

“How exciting, I have an opportunity to be heard, I can relay a message, educate an audience and share my expertise.”

Or

“Oh No, I don’t know what to say, what to wear and my tummy is already going crazy.”

That’s how I was the first time I did a presentation workshop, I believed that everyone one else was much better than me which left me feeling inadequate, nervous and wishing the event would end.

Today I love the opportunities to share my experience with an audience whenever I can. And I can tell you what I did to change my mind.

Instead of focussing on me, I put all my attention on these topics:

  1. The audience
    1. Research who you will be speaking to and figure out what would be useful for them to hear from you. I used to be terrified of what my audience would think of me and when I changed my focus from ‘it’s all about me to ‘it’s all about them’ my talks got immensely better.
  2. The content
    1. Establish the purpose of your talk: I think about the audience members, what they do for a living, their needs, their aspirations and what would inspire them. I prepare topics that I know have transformed people and businesses in similar situations, because they can relate to that and imagine their own transformation.
  3. The experience
    1. We have five senses, some say six, and if we can incorporate as many into our talk as possible it offers variety, preference and flexibility.
      1. Sight: they can see you and props, you can write on a flipchart or use a slideshow. Also your surroundings and lighting can enhance their experience.
      2. Sound: they can hear you, you can add a video clip or play some music before you begin. Encouraging questions gives different voices too.
      3. Touch: If appropriate you can hand something round so they can feel it. If you get the chance you can shake the hands of your audience, either as they come in or as they leave.
      4. Taste and smell: Depending on the subject of your talk, you may be able to introduce thee too.
  4. The excitement
    1. Embrace the butterflies in your tummy, it’s your body preparing to give you more energy, which you will be grateful for when you start to speak. Trust the feeling.
  5. The check in
    1. Encourage questions and engagement from your audience. I usually ask. “is this useful for you” as I go along.
  6. The preparation
    1. Before: plan, prepare ad practise, Plan your talk with timings and content. Prepare with props, stories and recommendations. Practise, practise and then practise some more. And remember the basics, making sure that they can see you and your props and they can hear you.
    2. During: Stand up so that people can see you, speak slowly, speak clearly and engage with your people. Use the varying tone of your voice to keep people interested and use stories to emphasise your message. Finish with an action point to make sure they do something afterwards.
    3. After: Follow up! Although this sounds obvious, it’s the one task that often gets overlooked.
  1. The speaker
    1. What can I say about you? Your clothes should be appropriate for your audience and also comfortable for yourself.
    2. Just be you, breath, have fun and do it for them, not for you!

When I talk about my passion and make it for them, taking the focus away from my own insecurities, I love it and the audience do too!

I urge you to go out there, stand proud, share your passion, because you’ll be doing something most of the population dread and I am sure when it’s all over, you will be so glad you did.

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