"Anna, do you have any tips on how I can be more confident when I…
How to Speak With an Audience of Thousands
Congratulations! You’ve been invited to publicly speak to an audience of thousands. You may be filled with feelings of excitement, pride and a touch of … holy crap!
This article will help you go from feelings of how terrifying to how exciting by learning this following principle.
It’s Not About You – It’s About Your Audience (as I call it, INAY-IAYA)
To start, make a mindset shift because your fear is an excuse, your worry. Your focus on yourself, whether you are good enough, will only cause a barrier between you and your audience. There are much better ways to use your energy.
There are a couple of steps you can follow to make sure the experience doesn’t overwhelm you in a bad way. After all, there’s an audience waiting for you and your FABulousness.
Why hold them back? Let them have what they want.
Here are three keys to help you to publicly speak to a big crowd:
Take control of your mindset. Prepare your mind for what is to come. The thing about the brain is that it doesn’t know what will happen. All it knows is how to activate the fight or flight response, i.e. the amygdala freaking out when you panic. You don’t need this reaction. It won’t serve you or your audience. So do your preparation.
The mindset piece also extends to physical preparation. Before you speak, you will become nervous. This is simply energy; energy that can be channelled into a force for good. Spend time gaining focus with your mind in the lead up to your presentation.
Prepare your mindset physically and mentally.
2. Spatial Preparation.
Familiarising yourself with the space you will be public speaking in, is a no brainer. You want to become familiar with it. Make sure you can have access to the platform before your event. Stand on the stage, get your bearings, become spatially oriented with the space. Imagine what it will be like. Picture the audience there.
Take the steps to prepare for your presentation and make getting familiar with the space a key priority. Make friends with the environment you’ll be speaking in. Respect the space, be at one with it. Prepare visually.
3. Eye Contact.
Your body language, and specifically your eye contact, is what can really separate an amateur from a pro here. If you have done the second step and become familiar with the space, your body should be able to relax and therefore be natural and confident.
Remember Elle Woods (played by Reese Witherspoon) in the movie Legally Blonde with the bend and snap scene? Well just like having two moves that when done well go together perfectly, this is a technique to use with your eye contact and your audience.
I call it the Hold and Switch method:
- Hold – Don’t look around fleetingly. Don’t look here, there and everywhere. It doesn’t communicate confidence. Make eye contact with an actual person and hold it. For a good three to five seconds. It’s all about the connection. Satisfy their craving for your attention on them so that they can feel a connection with you.
- Switch – When you move from that first person to the next person in the audience, you then switch to a completely different point. For example, if the first person you held that eye contact with was front left (of the audience centre) then switch to back right. This way you will cover more of the audience, and they will feel more as though you were speaking to them.
If you continuously do the hold and switch, each person in your audience will feel a greater connection. If you don’t employ this technique in your public speaking, your audience members can walk away feeling dissatisfied. You want to make them feel the connection.
As Elle Woods said about the bend and snap, “It has a 98% success rate.”
If you have been invited to speak to an audience of thousands, you have done something amazing.
With some great preparation and use of these techniques, you will be ready to deliver public speaking that will show your audience you are present. You will connect, and they will remember you.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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