Public speaking is one of the biggest fear of the human race. And still, in some sort of way there are also people who doesn’t find it scary at all and of whom it is like second nature. How is that possible? I consider myself fairly good in public speaking and I believe you can be good in public speaking as well, you only need to realize something! Let me share some insights.
A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to present a prototype of a product we (our project-group) made. This project was about biomedical technology and we had to create a solution somebody can use for a problem which people with hemiplegia (paralyzed on one side of the body) encounters. Well, we had a pretty good idea with a pretty nice prototype. First there was a round of poster presentation and after that the best groups were selected and they could present their idea in front of the whole audience (around 400 people) and for a jury. We had that chance.
I was the one who made the prototype and I was the one who practised with it, so I had to present our idea. Not a problem. Of course, everybody has shaking hands in front of an audience, but there is a difference between shaking hand and blacking out.
So I grabbed the microphone and presented our idea. Couple of jokes, a good story and of course a great idea. And we won! Pretty cool!
Anyway, back to my original point, about public speaking. Being afraid is just natural. Of course you are afraid. You are putting yourself out there, showing your vulnerability and if you make a mistake everybody will laugh. You can only lose. And that is exactly where I want to talk about.
Speaking in front of an audience doesn’t mean you can only lose, it means you’ve already lost. How about that?
Not a nice thought, but true. The moment you grab the microphone there will be people who don’t like you. Who don’t like what you are wearing, don’t like how you talk or are just completely not interested. You have already lost the moment you decide to speak in front of an audience.. To emphasize this point, when I walked up and grabbed the microphone, somebody (this was told to me later) was saying ‘why does he has to do this in his ISCOMS-vest?’ This vest is the sweater of the International Student Conference where I am taking place in the Executive Board. To present my idea, I needed a vest, so I was just wearing it. So there was already an opinion about me!
This means you can’t only lose, because you’ve already lost! This means you can only win!
The moment you walk up the room people will already hate you, the only thing you can do right now is convince them that their initial thought was wrong, you are not somebody they should hate, they should like you (or at least your story). Now the only questions that is left is how to do this?
How to make an audience love you
- Don’t take yourself serious. You’ve already lost right? So make sure you understand that you are a loser. Don’t try to be an arrogant, parental person. Be on the same level as your audience, don’t try to stand above them.
- If you are nervous – tell them! I had shaking hands when I presented our prototype and there was a camera on those hands (which projected my hands on a big screen). So I spoke out that I had shaking hands (i.e. ‘Of course, I am deadly nervous now, so my hands shake’). This cleared some air and it evokes empathy. And as my audience were all students, this was exactly what I could use!
- Put naked chicks in the presentation. Well, not actual naked chicks. I wrote a post about this before, this is from Friends, where Joey tells Ross: ‘Start with a joke and put naked chicks in it’. This is exactly what you need to do. Make the presentation fun, even for a serious subject. Laughter is one of the best way you can get the audience with you. Make a joke, just have fun on the stage!
Well, that is my view on public speaking. Now I must tell you I’ve had acting classes, so I know what it means to be ridiculous on a stage, but I think anybody can do this. It doesn’t take courage, it only takes a realization. Realize that you have already lost, that you can only win. When you realize this, you will also find ways to win. Make a joke, don’t take yourself too serious and be honest. You will win the audience for you and you will win the presentation. Good luck.
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