Moving up the career ladder often requires being a confident public speaker – and yet it’s something that comes naturally to very few of us.
We’ve all heard the stats that more people fear public speaking than death, but at Chic Living magazine we’ve got your back. In this guide on how to give a kickarse presentation, we’re sharing tips from a former TV news reporter – somebody who not only had to master public speaking, but also presenting to camera and an audience of potentially millions!
Here are her hot tips for Chic gals wanting to polish their presenting skills …
BEFORE YOUR PRESENTATION
Say It Out Loud – It almost goes without saying, but know your stuff. Practice reading your presentation OUT LOUD beforehand – in your head doesn’t cut it.
By speaking those words OUT LOUD, you not only get a chance to rehearse any words or phrases that might make you stumble the first time out of your mouth, but it also helps to lock them into your “muscle memory”. That means, your mouth will know the words to form even if your conscious mind doesn’t!
Bring Your Nerves Under Control – Nerves are normal, and help to get the adrenaline flowing which is your body’s way of enhancing your performance, whether you’re taking an exam, singing a solo, or running a race.
However nerves can inhibit your performance if they get out of hand, so here are a couple of secrets to try:
- Release some of the excess adrenaline by extending your arms and pushing your hands against a wall as hard as you can.
- Rub your TMJ (temporomandibula joint). You have a TMJ on each side of your face, just in front of your ears – it’s the hinged part which allows you to chew and talk. Rubbing this helps to relax your jaw (and nerves!).
- Don’t forget the vocal warmup. You might get some strange looks (depending on where you do it) but blowing raspberries and cawing like a crow are great to get you warmed up for public speaking. If your mouth is feeling dry, guzzling cold water is not the answer as it can tighten your vocal cords. Instead, sip warm water or bite your tongue gently to stimulate saliva production.
Just Breathe – It sounds so simple but doing it properly is actually anything but. Breathing is something we do habitually – not naturally. Yet it’s worth the extra effort to do it properly, as it helps you to relax AND it helps support your voice when public speaking. So make sure you fill your lungs with breath, instead of trying to speak on “empty”! Volume projection and strength all depend on oxygen, so breathe deeply into your diaphragm.
SPEAK WITH CONFIDENCE
Take the Podium with Confidence – Imagine you are one of the Victoria’s Secret models. No, we’re not recommending you turn up scantily clad to command attention!
Instead, imagine you are putting on your Victoria’s Secret angel wings. Once you “don” your wings, you’ll feel like you can fly, it’ll improve your posture, and you’ll feel really HAWT!
When you take the podium, stand straight with your thumb in the palm. Your feet should be planted firmly about a foot apart. You’ve seen the news reporters do it to advantage – now it’s your turn!
Give Your Voice Va-Va-Voom – There’s a trend at the moment for women to speak a la Kim Kardashian – a bit gravelly or squeaky. DON’T. It’s not only incredibly abrasive and damaging to your vocal cords, it damages your career prospects.
This is known as “vocal fry” and while some women think it’s appealing or sexy, actually it makes you come across as less competent and trustworthy. (The cawing like a crow exercise mentioned earlier is great for strengthening vocal cords and getting rid of vocal fry.)
Women also tend to speak higher when nervous, or to seem more “feminine”, so try to consciously pitch your voice a little lower. You want to use a “chest” voice rather than your “head” voice if you want to appear strong and confident.
Don’t try to push your voice from the back of the throat, instead push down and out.
Aussies also have a bad habit of ending their sentences with their voices going up in pitch. This rising inflexion broadcasts uncertainty and weakness so be brave and make statements that go down, rather than up at the end.
Perfect the Pause – One of the biggest secrets to giving a kickarse presentation? Stop speaking!
Before you make an important point, pause. It will wake up anybody whose attention may have drifted away.
After an important point, pause. Let it sink in.
We rush to fill the silence with more words, but pausing can be extremely powerful. And it gives you a chance to catch your breath and/or check your notes!
With these masterful tips under your belt, you won’t just be ready to give a kickarse presentation – we reckon you’ll be looking for opportunities to show ’em your Chic speaking style!