Public speaking and managing nerves

Many Executives we work with are terrified of public speaking. Whether it is addressing the press or sitting in the hot seat in a live interview, the very thought of either can send high-powered business leaders into a spin.  We feature a number of presentation delivery lessons geared to help you with your next public address.
1. Eye contact – the glance and grab affect

First thing first, establish and hold eye contact with the reporter/audience. Eye contact builds trust, and creates a sense of engagement with your audience. In your interview, or public address you may be offered the use of a teleprompter (there is now an app for this!). You need to speak fluidly with natural pauses and inflections, and not read straight from the prompter. The trick is to glance and grab a phrase while maintaining eye contact giving the impression you are speaking directly to the audience.

2. Yes, you can use notes, but only as a guide

Many times clients will ask to use notes when speaking, and the answer is yes. Just like the use of a teleprompter, you need to glance and grab the next point from your notes with the goal of speaking to your audience and not at your script.  The key is knowing what you want to say and using the notes only to keep the facts straight and guide your delivery i.e. beginning, middle and end. This can be particularly useful when you only have a short time to speak.

3. Body language and facial expressions

A great interview or public address can all come undone with a roll of the eyes (think Julie Bishop’s recent reaction to budget cuts).  This can happen when a reporter or audience member asks a question that comes left of field, or that you’re not prepared to answer. Your look needs to translate as calm, professional and well-equipped to answer any question that comes your way. In other words, employ your pokerface.
4. The mirror is your friend
Practice your posture and the way you stand before your interview or speech. Be aware of your tone of voice. Take your time with your responses and maintain a calm and professional presence. If you are delivering a speech, or a presentation practice purposeful gestures.  If you want to move around, make sure you move deliberately and with purpose.  Otherwise stand strong and still.
 
Everyone’s different.  We’d love to hear your ideas on how you manage nerves.  Imaging the audience in its underwear might be old school but maybe there’s some other strategies you’ve employed that have really helped?
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