It’s that horrible moment. You’ve just been called to stage, your audience are silent, waiting for you to open your mouth and now it’s your turn. But what do you say? How do you start a speech with power and confidence? Will you follow the usual “Hmm… thanks very much for inviting me here” ? or are you prepared to make a difference?
The simple truth is, your audience will judge you from the moment you start your speech. Harsh I know but true. So it’s a good idea to start your speech with certainty and confidence. Here are some top tips for how to prepare yourself to start your speech with power and confidence.
Starting a speech isn’t only about your words
As the wise Maya Angelou said:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
So starting a speech is not as much about what you say as you might think. In fact the key thing I want to emphasize about starting a speech is to get yourself in the right state. If you show your confidence, your audience will have confidence in you too.
The biggest cause of nerves in public speaking is that most of us try to be someone we’re not; so to get started with confidence, start with being yourself.
Understand what qualities would you like to display as a speaker and empower yourself to exhibit the same with ease.
What benefit would you like to give to your audience? Show empathy and put yourself in the shoes of your audience and do an in-depth analysis of why people should listen to you? What fears are you conquering ? What doubts are you clearing ?
Understanding these allows you to be grounded and to start your speech as yourself, rather than starting from a place of panic or self-doubt. Once you are well versed with these and have read my 10 points to remember before making a presentation you are ready to win your audience with your words.
1) Skip the introduction ,make a slide instead: It is obvious that the moderator has already introduced you to your audience hence you doing the same verbally makes no sense. Begin with a question to grab attention or show a visual slide to grab it. Make sure the font is clear, the message direct and the text simple.
2) Be tech savvy, use a hand-held remote: It’s a shame to waste time looking down at your lap top while giving your presentation. Where every minute counts why waste even one ?
3) Do not tell a story, relive it: What is more impactful ?
(a) “When I reached the top of the cliff , the mystery unfolded and I saw a riot of colours, the water gurgled down in a zest and the waves crashed on my face.” OR
(b)” As I reach the top of the cliff , the mystery unfolds ,I see a riot of colours , The water gurgling under my feet and the waves crash on my face.”
What holds you captive ? the retelling of the past or the reliving in the present? Well the choice is obvious.
4) The 4321 strategy: 4 Facts,3 Quotes,2 Stories and 1 Question is all you need for an impactful presentation. Inclusions of facts and data shows that you have in-depth knowledge on the subject. Quotes suggest that you are well read and have researched on your subject. Stories are added to release tension and build trust, we all love stories don’t we? Leave your audience with a question to ponder on . It ensures that they carry you in their mind even after the session is over .
5) Take questions in between: Usually this is done at the end of a session but tell me what are the chances that you will remember your question till the end ? Moreover ,When you have a doubt now ,how can you move forward before clearing it? Does it make sense to you?
6) Make it engaging and interactive: How ? Take a poll, play games ,ask questions ,ask for volunteers within the audience for an activity do anything that calls for immediate attention and engages the audience in the act.
7) Keep the time frame in mind: Keeping time is the most challenging thing to do when a presentation is in progress. It is very easy to get distracted or caught in a trap of questions thrown at you. To get back on track , write key notes on a note size paper ensuring to cover all relevant topics and keep it handy. Make eye contact and walk towards the audience to get attention during the presentation.
8) Be entertaining and laugh at your own jokes: Am I kidding? No . It’s important that you present yourself in an entertaining manner while keeping the integrity on the topic in place. People need a small laugh and some tickles here and there to make sure that they don’t fall asleep.
9) Make use of the space: Move around ,make use of the space given to you . Throw your hands at the audience and grab attention. Share new information every two minutes . Imagine how boring it would be to listen to one thing for the whole duration. Make it interesting.
10) Vote of thanks slide with contact info: Be grateful to your audience for their attention and express gratitude by thanking them for the same. Do have a slide on yourself so that people may connect with you if need be. Also don’t forget to take feedback from the audience . Have them fill a feedback form to help you improve yourself on your skills. Remember not to take anything personally.
Public speaking is like democracy , it’s of the people, for the people and by the people . People is what matters the most and when you keep the interests of your subjects in mind and deliver, nothing can go wrong.
Go for it now.
Best wishes ,happiness and sunshine