One of the biggest challenges many new professional speakers face is overcoming their fear of being in front of a group of people. When this happens, very often the speaker will do a poor job of connecting with the audience by either not making eye contact or speaking in a soft weak tone.
For any presentation to go well, it is going to be critical that you work on your confidence and learn the power of stage presence. Being in front of a group of people and delivering information is not just about what you say, but how you say it. If you are serious about becoming a professional keynote speaker, then you must master your inner game and your ability to connect with the audience in an authentic and meaningful way.
The objective of your speech
“When you speak in front of a group of people, what you’re trying to get across is a message” says Emily Miller, the managing editor at the Keynote Speakers website. Either a message about yourself, a company, or an idea or principle; and the best way to get across your idea is to make a connection with your audience.
Remember that when you are talking to people, you are selling them something. Even if they are not purchasing it with their money, they still must buy into you and the ideas you are presenting them.
What follows are seven tips to connect with an audience.
1. Prepare so that you can relax.
The only thing worse then a nervous public speaker is an unprepared public speaker. Before you’re getting ready for your speech, make sure that you actually are ready. The best way to do this is to say your speech, without notes if possible, as many times as you can.
According to the website Motivational Speakers, “A lot of people make the mistake of writing a speech and then performing it without having even practiced out loud once. Everyone knows that things sound differently in our heads then they do when spoken out loud.” So read your speech, get it memorized and practice again and again-out loud.
2. Make it personal.
When speaking, always make personal connections between your speech and yourself. It’s easier to remember a funny/interesting story then it is to remember some arbitrary fact or tidbit. Stories are how we can get across to people the real us. If we tell someone a fact about ourselves, ex: “I am an adventurous person,” ok, interesting fact, but who cares.
But if I told someone a story about the time I went sky diving or swimming with sharks, well then, I don’t have to tell them that I’m adventurous, they’ll make the connection themselves, and it’s always better when they make the connections themselves-rather then you making it for them.
According to the website Motivation Ping, if you want to have the courage to get up on stage and deliver a great speech, then you are going to need to talk about something you are truly passionate about which is why its important to make it personal.
3. Slow down. Take your time.
Have you ever seen a public speaker who just gets on stage and starts talking a mile a minute? It happens all the time. When on stage, slow down. When you’re hanging out with friends, you don’t talk a mile a minute. So why do it when talking on stage. A relaxed pace and tonality sets the pace that it’s casual and that you’re a relaxed person; your relaxed pace will give the impression that you’re talking to the audience as a friend, and not just some ‘public speaker’.
4. Make eye contact with your audience.
I know, I know. The first thing that people tell you to do when public speaking is to stare straight ahead, or at the back wall, that staring at people can make you nervous or lose your thoughts. But listen, the only way that you’ll ever connect with a person is to make eye contact with them.
Imagine you’re having a conversation with someone and the whole time they just kept averting eye contact or staring at the wall behind you. You’d think they were crazy. The whole purpose of connecting with someone in the audience is to make them feel as though you two are the only ones in the room. If you can make five hundred people feel as though they’re the only ones in the audience, then you are good to go.
5. After the speech, take time to talk to people.
You may have just given the best speech ever, but don’t let people’s last opinions of you be of some guy/girl rushing off stage, too busy to talk to anyone, and jumping in a limo. After you give your speech, take a moment to mingle with the audience. Even if you only take the time to talk to one or two people, the rest of the audience will notice that you at least took the time to stay and talk with the audience.