Being put “on the spot” can be a challenge. And yet to some it seems so easy. They rise to the occasion, speak fluently, seemingly without preparation, and with such ease. We would all like to be able to emulate them – that effortless presentation of ideas, that seemingly impromptu connection with an audience, and an outcome that establishes them as credible and convincing.
In this article, let’s look at 6 techniques you can implement to build your fluency and confidence, so that you, too, can seemingly present with effortless ease.
1. Stand very deliberately and take time to begin. Pause. Smile if it is appropriate. Take a moment or two to think if you need to, and to ground yourself physically. Stand up straight to build confidence.
2. Do not apologise. You will have something to say even if it is about what you don’t know about the subject and why. Apologising ruins your confidence, deflates the audience’s confidence in you and is generally demoralising. It is also a waste of the opportunity to create a great attention-getting opening that leads into your ideas.
3. Begin with a strong opening and with confidence. Make a bold statement of your theme or to introduce what you want to say. It may be a challenge to the audience. It may be a strong statement of belief. The emphasis here is on the word strong. You convince your audience, and in the process, you convince yourself that you are confident and have a strong theme.
4. If necessary, repeat the topic out loud, either as an opening or following the strong opening. It gives you the feeling of gaining time, and it helps you develop your theme and tie it into the topic.
5. Scary though it may be, maintain eye contact. You and the audience are all in this together. Share the experience. Make the tone conversational so that you engage them in your material and presentation. Use words that you would use with them in conversation. If possible relate your material to someone in the audience or the organisation involved or to the geographical area.
6. Stick with your topic. Use your stories, examples and other support material to relate to that topic. Call back, if possible, to your opening statement. Stay focussed on your message.
7. Take questions and answers if there is time and/or opportunity, but not right at the end. Instead, finish strong. If nothing else, conclude with a reiteration of your opening statement rehashed in light of what you have said during the speech. If there is no need to thank anyone at the end, then a nod and/or smile is enough to finish, and can be far more powerful.
Add a dash of practise to this recipe. With experience you can build these techniques into habits so that they come to you more easily. With experience, and success, your confidence will grow. And with experience you will become more comfortable with not only speaking “on the spot”, but also interacting with your audience “on the spot” as well.
© Bronwyn Ritchie If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. Get her 30 speaking tips FREE and boost your public speaking mastery over 30 weeks. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com