Do you reach out to your tribe through public speaking? How are your presentation skills? Would you love to have more impact in the world? I sure would!
I give talks at regional Lyme disease conferences and to local support groups to get out in front of my community. Clear impactful communication supports my wellness career and helps my audience understand the transformation I offer. I’ve learned that speaking effectively with a large group at a meeting or conference is different than working with people one on one or in a yoga class. I work to improve my delivery, so I can help more people.
Speaking With Large Groups
The way you deliver your message- your use of voice and body language- can make or break your impact in a workshop or a conference. I learned a lot about delivery while studying voice and singing. My voice coach was very particular about my stance, enunciation and use of breath. She wanted these habits established, so I could focus on the emotions and message in each piece. By the end of our lessons I was always shaking with fatigue from the work we had done to improve my delivery.
I recently attended an event where a number of yoga teachers spoke- and as I listened to their presentations I was surprised by how uncomfortable many of them were speaking in front of a large group. It made me think about all the training I have done and how it supports my ability to speak effectively to an audience. It also reaffirmed the value of the work I continue to do to improve my delivery as I refine my voice and increase my impact.
8 Ways to Uplevel Your Presentation Skills and Engage Your Audience
Talk About Your Passions
People can tell if you aren’t into your subject matter. You don’t have to know and love every detail- just be honest about what you know, what you are learning, and why it is important to you and them. You want your audience to feel the love.
Know Your “Why”
Understand your purpose in giving the talk. Is it to entertain, to educate or to get people intrigued and excited about how you solve problems? Keep the purpose of your talk front and center in your plan and delivery.
Meet Your Audience Where They Are
Reach out to your audience. Make eye contact, ask questions, do quick surveys, or pass props to engage them. Use language they can connect with, and have simple explanations for any technical terms you introduce. Remember you are speaking for your audience, to help them engage at a deeper level.
Organize Your Information
I use powerpoint or google slides for large groups to me stay on track and on time, but you can use notes, props or speak from memory. Prepare for the unexpected by being organized and anticipating how things might go wrong. I always bring my computer, a thumb drive and a paper copy of my presentation. This means I am ready to continue if things go wrong.
Shake Off the Fear
Does public speaking give you the jitters? Before you begin, do a “check-in.” Are your palms sweating? Is your mouth dry, or your tongue four times its normal size? If so- stop. Before you begin, get grounded. Meditate, do some deep breathing, or imagine the audience in their underwear.
“Overall, fear of public speaking is America’s biggest phobia – 25.3 percent say they fear speaking in front of a crowd. Clowns (7.6 percent feared) are officially scarier than ghosts (7.3 percent), but zombies are scarier than both (8.9 percent).” Christopher Ingraham “The Washington Post”
Actively Manage Pace, Pitch and Volume
Be aware of how quickly or slowly you speak, and learn how to actively vary your pace, pitch and volume. I had a tendency to speak too quickly and softly. I could see puzzled looks on the faces of the audience as they tuned out. My solution? I got myself a metronome and used it to practice varying my pace.
Stand in Your Own Footprints
What do I mean by this? Literally stand and be still! Move with purpose when you move. Minimize the pacing, fidgeting, “sos”, “ums” and “ohs”- they detract from your message.
“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” –Dale Carnegie
Post Talk Review
Make a constructive review checklist. Fill it out after your talk and use your findings to create a plan for improving your delivery. Record your talk when possible and listen to your words and delivery.
Here are the questions I ask myself- or in some cases my host- after I give a talk.
Talk Review Checklist- 4 Questions
- Was I clear in my delivery? What one thing can I work on to zero in on my message? Narrow the topic? Use a pause instead of “um”, “so” or “and”?
- How was my pace? Did I need to slow down? Did I finish on time or was the conclusion crunched? If I was rushed at the end, what section could I leave out or shorten to create space?
- Did anyone ask questions? If not, build in a place for questions.
- Did the audience engage? Was this the right topic for the right community?
What should be on your checklist? Do a quick post talk analysis, and systematically refine your voice to improve your impact with your audience. You have the power to evolve the way you speak to reach more people with your message.