1998. Alwoodley Primary. Year 3. Talent contest. My legs tremble. I go onstage. The whole school is watching. The lights burn my eyes.The music starts. I hear Britney Spears sing out. My cue to start dancing. It’s goes well. I’m not the best dancer but I move in time to the music and it’s all going to be okay. Then the spin comes. Suddenly I’m on the floor. What happened? Everyone is staring…
This might sound like a bad dream, even a nightmare to some of you, but it is actually what happened to poor 7 year old me. I was left embarrassed and ashamed but determined to get back up and carry on. And guess what guys? I survived. I lived to tell the tale. Not only that, I went on to have many more stage experiences and even some more dances (although I never got much better)!
According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” – Jerry Seinfeld
Now all this is my long winded way of telling you that performing isn’t a life or death situation. You might think it is the scariest thing you can imagine but with just a bit of training and practice anyone can have the confidence to perform.
So, what if you’re not a dancer or actor – why is this relevant to you?
‘Public speaking is the process or act of performing a speech to a live audience.’
All of us have to perform at some stage of our lives. Drama has helped me overcome many fearful moments and a fair few falls – literally! It has also taught me the skills and confidence for delivering presentations, running meetings and even being interviewed.
Here is the thing, whether you are speaking in front of one person or a hundred, the same techniques work.
Remember people are here to listen to you so don’t rush and your words will come across more clearly. Also pause after every sentence, this will give you thinking time and allow the audience to absorb your points.
Increase your volume
This takes a little common sense: if you are in a small room you don’t want to bellow at the person next to you; but you do need to adjust your volume according to the size of the room and the amount of people you are talking to. If in doubt, it’s better to speak a little louder than you think you need to.
This is vital to keep the attention of your audience. Try looking at one person at a time – this creates a deeper connection with individuals and makes you feel less like you are performing to a big crowd.
Engage with your words
Your tone of voice and body language should match your point. Is it a sad point? You should sound serious. Is it an exciting point? Your voice and body language should reflect that.
Turn your nerves into excitement
Just like an athlete before a race, channel that nervous energy into excitement. Smile before you start to speak and you may even enjoy yourself up there.
Our Public Speaking Workshops look at all these points and lots more to help you become a more self-assured speaker. It is aimed at all abilities whether you have little to no experience or could just do with that extra boost. We use drama techniques to look at public speaking as a performance and teach you the confidence and presence needed to captivate crowds of any size.
Chances are you won’t end up performing to Britney Spears but it may just help you at your next meeting.
Click here for details of our training workshops.