I remember the first time I was due to teach a class about guns and gun safety. Even though I had gone over my notes many times already, I found myself up at 4:00 AM the day of the class, going over them again.
I was as nervous as I could be. What if I couldn’t gain their attention? What if I was a boring speaker and people just hated me? What if I forgot what I was supposed to say? What if, what if, what if?
In the midst of coming up with all of the scenarios that could plummet my potential speaking career (as well as my self-esteem), a friend called. I told him how my anxiety was rising and I will never forget his response. “You’re a chick with a gun. You can’t go wrong.”
Strangely enough, that one statement put my mind at ease and gave me the confidence I needed to get up in front of the group and hopefully make a lasting impact. In an effort to help ease your speaking worries and become a better speaker, I reached out to the one person I know who seems to impact everyone he meets—Red Katz, motivational speaker and author of Live Your YOUlogy.
Red works with executives and entrepreneurs to help them reach higher levels of success both professionally and personally. His suggestions when it comes to speaking? He has eight.
- Speak from the heart. When you are talking with your audience, let your passion for the topic shine through. This makes you interesting, no matter what you are speaking about. Essentially, you want your audience to “feel it before they hear it.”
- Have a conversation. Don’t think of it as speaking to the members in your audience. Instead, pretend as if you are having a conversation with each one individually. This helps make the situation less anxiety-provoking while also allowing you to talk more naturally.
- Make eye contact. You want everyone in the audience to feel as if you are speaking directly to them, so let your eyes scan the room. Aim to make eye contact with people in all four corners so that no one feels left out.
- Channel your energy. It is natural (and healthy) to feel excited energy before speaking in front of a group. In fact, some rock band members get so anxious before performing that they reportedly throw up. Take that energy and channel it into your speech. Use it as a funnel for delivering your message with more punch and power.
- Don’t EVER speak from a piece of paper. This tip couldn’t be emphasized enough. If you really want to reach your listeners, then leave the paper on the podium. Just worry about hitting the highlights and, if you leave something out, no one will ever know. Of course, this means preparing and practicing for your speech beforehand. But when you do, you will be able to speak more from the heart and use eye contact, two of the other key factors in delivering impactful speeches.
- Be conscious of your body. Non-verbal cues can have just as much impact as verbal ones, if not more so. Therefore, you’ll want to be aware of the ones you use. For instance, if you stand with your hands clasped in front of you, you seem closed off. Put them in your pockets and it is as if you have something to hide. The best position for them is open and in front of you. That shows your audience that you are approachable and fully engaged.
- Give your audience value. Think of this one in these terms: if you go to a rock concert, you want to hear rock music, right? The same is true for your audience. Give them the information they want to hear, the information that has value for them. If it is only valuable to you, then get rid of your ego and adapt by switching it up.
- Attend Toastmasters. Toastmasters is an international organization that empowers speakers, making you more comfortable standing in front of a group and talking. They also help you learn how to do things such as remove “um” and “so” from your speech pattern because it dilutes what you are saying. They teach you how the power is often in the space between the words, and not in the words themselves.
There you have it, eight tips to help make you a more impactful speaker. To learn more about public speaking or to contact Red to speak directly to your group, he can be reached at http://redinspires.com/.