How to Speak Without Sweaty Pits
Yesterday I spent the day at a workshop where I listened to a lot of speakers. I have a new perspective on speakers now that taking the stage and owning the mic is part of my everyday life.
Today, each speaker was well prepared. They were all well spoken and passionate about they’re topics. For the most part, all of the talks were “okay”. One speaker, however, really stood out. Why? Because he was real. What he was saying seemed authentic rather than manufactured.
For some, getting up in front of a group is terrifying. For others, a piece of cake. I do it as a profession and still I’m always a little scared. My hands shake and I get dry mouth. Then, when I grab the mic, I rock it.
Here’s how to get over the fear, be authentic, and speak in public with confidence and charisma:
- If you’re nervous, tell them.
Be honest. If your knees are knocking, call yourself out on it. Make a joke if it. Sometimes I start with “when I am nervous I tend to speak even faster – if this is happening someone please stop me.” It breaks the ice, loosens up the crowd, establishes a connection, and helps me stay in control of my speed.
- No matter the crowd or the topic, be real.
Be yourself. Just because your presenting in front of a group you do not have to be someone your not. Prentending doesn’t engage. Trust me; you connect with your audience more when you are just you versus when you’re trying to be someone else.
- Practice, Practice, Practice.
I learned this the hard way. Know your stuff. Practice it until you know it. Even when I am doing a presentation I have done many times before, I still practice.
- If you make a mistake keep going, the audience doesn’t know.
There have been times that I have opened my mouth and what I was going to say next is completely gone. I’m blank. So I take a breath and something comes out. Most times, the audience has no idea that I forgot; they just think it’s a pause.
- Put water somewhere you can have a drink.
You are ALLOWED to stop and take a sip. Do it. Dry mouth stinks.
- Pick a few people in the audience and speak directly to them.
Try to pick one from each section and then talk to them. Look that direction. Make eye contact.
- Ground yourself.
To do this, I ask myself a series of questions before I hit the stage. I also listen to music. Find something that works for you. Calm your nerves and get into the moment.
When you’re on the stage and it’s go-time, give yourself just one small goal: Connect with one person. Just one! Then the pressure is off. If you connect with more than one, it’s a gift.
Have fun out there!