Taking the dread out of giving a short talk

When I meet new people at networking groups they often say they are dreading giving their 60 second presentation and the thought of giving a short talk is even more daunting. They tell me they worry that they might stumble, they won’t know what to say and that people won’t find it interesting. Of course thinking about all the things that might go wrong makes them even more nervous.

As a coach I find most of my clients have limiting beliefs in some form or other and they can really hold you back. So part of my job is to get people to challenge them and see if they still apply or there is some other way of looking at a situation. Many small businesses have small budgets for advertising but the great thing about giving a talk is that it is a great opportunity and it is absolutely free. Even if you advertise if you are asked to do a short talk it is really worth doing. It allows your audience to learn more about you as a person and also your business.

So what’s the best way of going about it so you can keep those nerves under control? The first thing is that in order to feel more confident about giving a talk it’s really important to spend some time preparing what you are going to say. It doesn’t mean that you have to have the whole talk written out word for word but it means knowing what you are going to cover in your talk. Some people like to have the talk written out in front of them personally I find it quite distracting and I usually just take a card with headings.

It is also a good idea to practice saying it out aloud and if you can find someone to listen than that is even better. They can tell you if you are speaking loud enough and clearly.

In a short talk you can’t tell people about the whole of your business so pick one aspect for example, something seasonal that people might want to buy at this time of year or something topical if something you do has been in the news, or maybe you have a new service or product you would like to let people know about. The thing is that your audience get to know more about your business and you, this is important as people buy from people.

When we are feeling nervous we tend to speak faster. When you are giving a talk as a general rule you need to slow down. Also don’t be afraid of a small pause, we are all very worried about silence but if you have just made an important point a slight pause gives your audience time to digest it and it is very effective.

If you possibly can look up at your audience it helps them to feel you are talking to them and it will –even if you are not feeling it –make you look more confident.

So how to cope with those pre talk nerves the easiest way is through your breathing, it sounds so simple but it is very effective.

When we get nervous we tend to breathe more quickly we also breathe more shallowly, this has the effect of making us even more nervous. So slow down your breathing, breathe down into the bottom of your lungs and make your out breathe slightly longer than your in breath. This has a calming effect but you do need to practice this before your talk. I give this exercise to a lot of my clients well practically all of them and they are surprised how effective it is. The other advantage of this is when we are nervous our voice tends to rise to a higher pitch this is particularly noticeable in women although men’s voices also rise. Using this breathing technique will help to stop your voice rising and help to make your voice sound stronger.

After you give your talk it is important to acknowledge what you have achieved. Having spent so long over anguishing over giving the talk it is all too easy to dismiss it when it is over. However actually acknowledging what you have achieved and that you have actually got through it will help to grow your confidence. Also acknowledge what went well maybe several people asked questions, or someone asked to have a further chat with you. The fact that everyone is not lining up to buy your products does not mean the talk was a failure people often take sometime to make a decision to buy a product or service, or they may not need it at this time. After you have acknowledged what went well it is also important to think about how you can improve your next talk, this should be stated in positive language for example ‘perhaps if I slow my talk down next time it will be more fluent and I will be less likely to stumble on words’.

The final thing to remember is that once you start 10 minutes goes very quickly.

If you would like some help  giving confident presentations call me on 07714 201 649

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