Have you ever been standing in front a room of people, their eyes on you, wondering what you agreed to that put you in this situation?
Do you hear that?
The pounding of your blood pressure in your ears is only being drowned out by the deafening silence of the waiting audience.
You want them to hear your message, buy your product, or be inspired by your vision or ideas.
But how can you make sure you deliver the goods like the TED speakers you idolize?
Have you ever wondered about those speakers you see, striding onto the stage, confidently addressing the crowd like they have been friends for years?
You’re not alone.
We all have dreams of confidently guiding an audience through a journey they will remember. We want our ideas and words to inspire those around us and do our part to change the world.
Well, this life-changing accomplishment is closer than you think. Do you want to feel confident, prepared and calm when you’re speaking? The truth is most of us overcomplicate this process.
I’ve been through many seasons of speaking in my life. I’ve covered board rooms, keynotes for huge audiences and small group Bible studies. I think small group speaking is harder than a large group, but that is for another post.
Like many of you, I spent my life either over or under preparing for my presentations. Each carries its own set of pitfalls. So a couple of years ago, I took s hard look at what was working and what wasn’t.
I followed a three-step program the combined the best of my strategies to-date and my speaking confidence, performance and reviews have never been higher.
[lead]Let me take you through this system in today’s post.[/lead]
Today’s post gives you my simple 3 step program to deliver your message from the stage with calm, confident impact.
Step 1 – Define a Goal
Being intentional about your goal might seem silly, but you need a goal. Why are you speaking? What is your CTA (Call to action)? Why should the audience care about what you have to say?
Don’t make this complicated.
Whenever you’re speaking to a group, you’re either looking to persuade the, or inform them. You may have a grander vision than that, but it boils down to one of those two types. Be clear about what yours is, write it down and keep it close at hand. Make sure you can articulate how you’ll know if you achieved your goal? Will behavior change, is this measurable?
Be clear with your audience about your goals. They should know what’s expected of them as members on this journey. Will you be asking them to make decisions, or just think about how your topic impacts their lives?
An explicit goal is your true north for this effort. Use it to guide whether you put content in a session or not. It will help you determine if you’re speaking too long or whether you need to increase focus on particular areas of your talk. Your audience will appreciate a talk with a clear focus.
Step 2 – Prepare to Win
Once you have a clear goal, preparing for your talk is the next phase. Think about that goal and what you’ll need to do to achieve it. What kind of visuals will you need? What are they key points you’ll need to make? how will this audience resonate with your ideas? Will you appeal to their sensibility or their emotions?
You need to prepare for how the talk will go. In many ways, it’s a conversation and performance. Too scripted and it will bounce off your audience as unauthentic. If you’re not prepared to make critical points in particular ways, you risk looking unprepared to your audience.
I try to make sure that I have key phrases that I know will work well with my audience and use those to make my points. I then use bullets to list out to other data or visuals I want to share or describe, helping me as I go through step 3.
Step 3 – Practice
Yes – you need to practice. Now, in my line of work we “wing” many conversations based on our technical depth, but these interactive and collaborative sessions. When I’m presenting to a group, internal team, client or larger audience I want to be as prepared as I can.
I run through my talk several times, ideally a week before delivering it. This gives me time to work through clumsy transitions in topics or problems with the way I’ve put the message together. Then the night before and the morning of (depending on schedules) I do another run through to get comfortable with the flow and the words I want to use.
That plan-based practice is what keeps me comfortable on stage.
Are you over or under preparing?
Are you worried about standing up in front of people?
Are you signing rap songs indoor head before speaking (yes I know someone who does this)?
Start improving today by organizing your preparation process and following these three steps.
Have fun on stage and I’ll see you out there! – Adam
P.S. Let me know in the comments what you’re struggling with when speaking and I’ll give you personalized tips on improving!