Looking good, sounding better

Next week I have to stand up in front of a room full of people I don’t know, and deliver a short address. I really don’t have any worries about the content, and I’m a reasonably average public speaker, but I’m still a little apprehensive. So I’ve been reading around the topic, because I think if there are some good tips to be had, these may transfer to everyday situations – including online presentations – where I’m less concerned about doing myself justice. We should never stop learning!

It seems there are a number of things that it’s generally accepted will improve our speaking performance. The first is to overcome any issues which might detract from our confidence, so – for example – if the event is on camera, we should do a dry run so we can watch it back and be happy that we look and sound good.

Practice makes perfect, so rehearsing a presentation out loud, especially if we can do it in the same venue, really helps. And for goodness’ sake, if a Powerpoint presentation is involved, it’s essential to make sure we know it well.

On a video presentation, it really helps to be in an uncluttered space so we and our audience can concentrate on what’s being said. I’m a fan of using a separate camera away from the screen, so I look into it (and straight at the audience).

Finally, everyone seems to recommend smiling. Apart from breaking down barriers between the audience and ourselves, apparently it reduces stress – a double benefit!