But…stuff happens as it does in life, and you find yourself in a predicament. My little predicament was a company going out of business after having spent 11 years building it. What was going to be next for me?
Speaking wasn't even on my list of ideas. It wasn't on my radar. I figured I'd just go find another company to build; which I did. And, right around that same time I got invited to speak. Someone called me and asked me to speak at their event.
Now…one might ask, why was I invited to speak in the first place? I'd sure be asking that question if I were reading this post.
Remember, I'm not a speaker…yet. And, I'm certainly no powerful and confident speaker at that time. The only speaking I had done was hosting conference calls (good prep work, by the way), and maybe a 10-minute nervous stint on stage every now and then to share my story.
I was asked because I had a story to share.
The reason I was invited to speak was because I had a documented track record of consistently producing results in network marketing, and he felt that I had something of value to offer his audience. And…great speaking starts right there. Offering value.
But…before I get into these “How Be a Powerful and Confident Speaker” tips, let me say this. This is me saying this. Meaning very simply that I personally had to go through the metapmorphasis of speaking for the first several times with frayed nerve endings, icky butterfly-filled stomach, heart pounding…and that ultimate urge to pee right before you get on stage. Yes…I felt ALL of it.
These particular “action steps” if you will, are what I did to go from “not so good on stage and super nervous Todd” to being able to walk onto a stage in front of 10,000 people and command that audience's attention.
How you Become a Powerful and Confident Speaker
#1: Have Something of Value to Offer your Audience.
People want transformation, not education all by itself. What expertise can you provide them that will give them some result? Think about ways that you can impact or move your audience. If you're going to be a speaker, you have to be delivering something that will enhance their life in some way.
List three things that you are really good at that someone would want to know about, and start there. You can't be a speaker with nothing to share…no value to offer.
#2: Know your Purpose and End Result.
Before you ever step onto the platform, or even the “virtual” platform (like a conference call or webinar), know clearly what your purpose is for speaking. Are you there to inform, educate, entertain, teach, demonstrate…what? Know the end before you start. What do you want to do for them? What action are they going to take as a result of listening to you?
Don't ever get on stage for the sake of talking. I know people who just want to have the microphone in their hand so they can look like a big shot, but have really nothing to day. All ego driven, and no real content. Don't be that person. Have a purpose and deliver a specific result.
#3: Start Talking.
Speak. You cant learn to swim on the pool deck. You have to jump in the water. Find opportunities…or take advantage of opportunities to speak. Volunteer to help co-host conference calls, take intros for another speaker, share your testimonial or story, take webinar intros, host a webinar or training, do a weekly call for your group…anything that enables you to talk in front of a group.
Again…if you want to get good as a speaker, you have to start speaking.
Amateurs don't. And…you DO NOT want to be an amateur speaker. IT won't work out so well for you. Being yanked off stage or booed off because you made an idiot out of yourself (everyone's greatest fear), can easily be alleviated by practicing what you're speaking on.
I still, to this very day, having spoken thousands of times, STILL practive and go through my presentations before I deliver them. “Winging it” is a recipe for a stage disaster to occur.
#5: Don't Memorize and Swallow it all. Blow Chunks Instead.
I know…pretty gross, huh? Not talking about actually throwing up here, but more on the lines of how you deliver presentations with confidence.
It doesn't happen by memorizing every word of your presentation. Probably one of the worst things you can do is memorize your speech or presentation. Yes…by all means, know it. But…don't memorize it, otherwise you'll speed through it like a robot.
There's something in speaking called “chunking”. Here's what it is. You take your presentation and you divide it into shorter “chunks” of information, rather than looking at it as one BIG presentation. A thirty minute presentation could be broken down into five 6-minute chunks or sections.
For example, if you were talking to an audience and teaching them how to get better engagement on their Facebook posts, you may talk for 5-minutes each on the following subjects: asking questions to your Facebook followers, posting videos, adding photos, timing your posts, advertising, and post frequency.
So…now you've taken a 30-minute presentation and broken it down into six manageable 5-minute “chunks”, which makes it less daunting.
#6: Know your Start and Finish, but don't Memorize it either.
The best speakers know their content, but don't have it memorized to every last word. When you walk up onto a platform, or speak from the “virtual” one, you have to know ahead of time, what you are going to say when you begin, and as well as exactly how you are going to close or finish your presentation.
Don't you dare walk up there not knowing how to begin, or you may end up staring into the eyes of your audience frozen. It doesn't have to be difficult.
I may start a presentation with, “Good morning! What an amazing event so far! I'm honored and excited to be sharing some really powerful information with you this morning. Who is ready to learn how to be a better recruiter in your business?” (My hand raised inviting the audience to raise theirs through my gesture.)
#7: Record Yourself.
The only real way for you to know how good you are in your speaking is to actually hear or see yourself in action. If becoming a more powerful and confident speaker is important to you, then make sure you record (or have someone) some of your presentations.
One of the biggest “aha” moments for me came from a video tape of me seeing a presentation I did in front of a live audience. I immediately saw what I was doing wrong and changed it from that day forward. Don't skip this step. It's too important.
#8: Keep Track of What Works and What Doesn't.
You will very easily find out through giving presentations and speaking what works well for you…and what doesn't. If for example, you are teaching a lesson or making a point through telling a story and the audience responds really well to it, make sure you remember what you did so you can do it again in the future.
On the other hand, if you say or do something that you know very clearly didn't work out so well for you, remember that as well…and don't do it again.
I actually keep a journal of lessons that work and those that don't. This goes back to my whole saying that “Success is repeating the things that work and deleting those that don't.” This will go a long way in helping you to develop your confidence as a speaker.
#9: Only Talk on Subjects you Know Well.
You won't every see me on stage talking about Chemical Engineering, because I know nothing about it. If someone asked me to talk on that subject, or anything else I wasn't comfortable with, I wouldn't do it.
The key to confident and successful speaking on the platform is talking on the subjects you are great at. Think right now about something you are amazing at in your life. It would be very easy for you to talk or present on that subject, because it is something you know very well.
#10: Use Slides that Are Short and Not Loaded with Text.
I remember that first day I was asked to speak. I had never used a PowerPoint presentation in my life. But…I felt that since I was going to be speaking that I should have a PowerPoint for the audience to follow. My first draft for a 45-minute presentation included 62 slides! Way too many. I think I narrowed it down to about 20 for that first talk, which was still too much.
The purpose of using visual aids or slides is to allow the audience to follow along and provide you some triggers or cues to keep you on point.
I suggest using slides that are not loaded with text. A short phrase is typically enough to trigger you into talking on that “chunk” of information for several minutes.
#11: Settle Down.
You'll live. Act like it. You know this stuff. This is your content that you are an expert in. Walk up their and own it. Again…its easy to talk confidently because this is your “sweet spot”, what you're great at.
Even as I say this, I know that nerves come into play. Prepare, practice, know your content, go through your slides if using them, then get up there and do what you do best.
#12: Know your Microphone.
You need to know how to use a microphone. Seems like it might be pretty simple, right? Hold it (if a handheld) and talk into it. But…there's a right way to do it, and a wrong way. The moment you get on stage and begin talking, you have to be aware of the sound the audience is hearing. Is your microphone too close to your mouth? Too far away? Adjust it immediately, based on what you hear.
The sound guys should do a good job (if you have them) of modifying the volume, if it is out of whack. Also…in using a handheld, it goes where your mouth goes. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people turn their head, but the microphone doesn't move with them. Make sure you handheld is in front of your mouth. Depending on the volume, I typically will hold a microphone about 6-inches away from my mouth, unless I'm making some specific point where I require putting my mouth right up on the microphone.
When using a lavalier or lapel microphone, be sure to hide the wires. Nothing is more irritating to the viewer's eye than seeing a dangling wire out of your pants. I will literally go back stage, unbutton my pants and untuck my shirt, run the wire through the back of my shirt, and completely tuck away any wires, so the audience literally sees nothing, except the microphone on my ear or lapel.
#13: Move on Purpose.
If you're nervous, as you may be, there's a good chance that you might end up rocking back and forth on your feet or pacing around on the stage. I move around quite a bit on stage, but it is all on purpose. I may move to my stage right to address that side of the audience, stand in the middle to address the entire group, then move to the left to give that side some special attention.
Be wary of your movements, and only move when there is a purpose for it.
There's also something called “Stage Anchoring”. Let's look at it from the audience's view. If the audience is looking up on the stage, the left side of the stage for them (your right), if perceiving the stage as a timeline, would represent their past. The center would be the present. And…the right side would be the future.
So…if you ever watch me on stage, and I'm on the audience's left, I am likely referring to where they were, or their past. As I move to the audience's right side of the stage (my left), I will be referring to something in the future…where they want to be. Their end result.
#14: Sleep Well.
It's always a very good idea to sleep well the night before a presentation. I've been to many events where my hosts go out to dinner and want to stay up very late. Don't get sucked into that. Go to bed. Waking up with very few hours of sleep and giving a presentation without much rest doesn't put you in the position of being your best.
#15: Show up Early.
I always show up for my presentations early so that I can get a look at the room set up, know what kind of micrphone I'm using, be able to actually walk up on the stage and see what I'll be seeing when my presentation time comes.
Is there a monitor in front of the stage that allows me to look at my slides, or do I have to turn my head and look at the screen the audience is seeing?
Can I even see the screen where my slides are showing?
I've shown up at events where I couldn't even see the actual slides I was using, and there was no monitor in front of the stage for me to view.
Is there a timer in front of you? How are you going to know when it is time to get off stage?
You have to be prepared and know what the room feels like and what the set up entails before you speak.
#16: Stay on Time.
One of the worst things you can do is run over your time. This can be prevented by practicing your presentation and making sure your timing is on.
You don't want to get on stage for a 30-minute presentation and find yourself rushing through your last few slides because you are running out of time.
And…do not ever run over your time! It is rude, unprofessional and completely blows the schedule for the rest of the day. Don't be that person. Stick to your time. Be a pro!
Alright then. There you go. There are 16 great tips on helping to become a more powerful and confident speaker, either on the actual platform or the “virtual” platform for conference calls or webinars you might be presenting on.
I've been speaking professionally now for over 15 years and have done thousands of presentations all over the world to tiny audiences of as few as 12 people, to as many as 10,000 in a stadium.
While I don't “officially” run a regular speaker training course, I have a number of clients that have hired me to help them in that area.
If you want to know how to be a better speaker, produce content to sell, or want to know how to do exactly what I do, I take on about two new clients a month and help them do just that.
If you are interested in me personally coaching you to become a better speaker or trainer, simply email my assistant at: firstname.lastname@example.org