As therapists we know how to listen like pros. But have you got what it takes to be equally confident in front of an audience? Sometimes we assume that the content will speak for itself, but winning over your audience is a skill you have to cultivate.
Want to be a more confident speaker? Here are a few suggestions to exercise your presentation muscles and boost your speaking self-esteem.
Keep it simple. Ever wondered why presentations like TED talks have become so popular? It’s because these speakers have just one fantastic idea they’re sharing with their audience. You might be excited by all the information you want to share, but if you give your audience too much content they may feel overwhelmed.
A stellar presentation contains just enough information to get your audience thinking, gives them a message they can take home, and grabs their interest enough to leave them wanting more.
Be vulnerable. Sometimes it might seem like perfection is the goal, but guess what? You audience didn’t show up to see you be perfect. They just want to feel connected to you. They want to see that you’re willing to be vulnerable with them, roll with the unexpected and move past mistakes. If you can let them see that you’re human, then your audience will love you even more.
Be encouraged. When you give a presentation, the only person who can stand in your way is you. Your audience isn’t the enemy! They wouldn’t have come to hear you if they didn’t want you do succeed as speaker. They want you to do your best so they can learn something. So if you can visualize your audience as a group of friends cheering you on, you won’t let the “what ifs” get in your way.
Be approachable. Offering a community presentation is a great opportunity to connect with your audience as the “approachable expert.” A confident speaker isn’t so far removed from her audience that they feel that she won’t have time to say hello or hear a question.
How can the audience sense that you’re approachable? Every person should feel like you’re talking to him or her directly. Make eye contact with individuals, and use the space you’ve been given to move around rather than remain frozen in place.
If somebody asks you a question you can’t answer directly, tell them you’ll get their information follow up with them. Finally, always thank you audience for being great, and each person will feel like they contributed to the success of the presentation.
Also, don’t be afraid to use a little humor when you share your experiences, while staying professional. You shouldn’t be giving a standup routine, but letting your audience know that you’re human will never hurt.
Ready to get started? With the right dedication, anybody can be a more self-assured speaker. Remember, confidence isn’t a magic pill. It’s a muscle you can start flexing with any audience you encounter.