As my business grows, I find myself talking to larger and larger groups of people – and becoming increasingly worried about whether my presentation skills are doing justice to my subject matter.
To overcome these concerns, I recently set myself the goal of learning to present comfortably in a way that resonates deeply with my audience.
The book How to deliver a TED talk, by Jeremey Donovan was heaven sent, answering all my questions about pulling a presentation together and feeling comfortable on stage.
Unexpectedly, it also obliterated a stack of my public speaking insecurities by changing the way I view my relationship with my audience. Here are some of my top take outs.
Content is king. Authenticity is awesome.
Beyond a basic level of professionalism, no one really cares about your delivery. It’s your content that inspires and educates them, and your authenticity that engages them. Just be yourself and deliver your message with clarity and focus.
Passion trumps nerves.
The more your heart and mind are focused on something you love, the more effortlessly confident you’ll feel, and the less attention you’ll give to your anxiety. So, if you’re plagued by nerves, try to focus on your passion, not your sweaty palms.
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These people are your friends.
It’s easy to feel you have to adopt an authoritarian persona when presenting, but if that role doesn’t sit comfortably with you, it won’t gel with your audience either. Getting conversational and talking to them as though they’re your friends makes everyone more relaxed and creates more tangible connections.
Lose your agenda.
You wouldn’t engage your friends in a conversation that was secretly intended to sell them something or trick them into joining your database, so don’t do it to your audience. They’ll be able to sense your hidden agenda anyway, and the duplicity will damage their trust in you.
These insights have made me realise that I’d let my concerns about the performance aspects of public speaking distract me from the core reasons I do it: to build connections and inspire people to take action. As a result, my feelings around public speaking have shifted dramatically, and I’m really excited to present again soon and see what impact this new awareness brings.
Have you had an epiphany that’s helped your public speaking too?
Please share it in the comments, being as authentic and friendly as you please.