It’s go time. You are about to begin your very important speech or presentation. This is a special moment, filled with anticipation and, maybe for you, stress and fear. But, these five seconds or so also offer you one last opportunity to prepare for a great public speaking performance.
Use this time to your advantage by doing these 10 things:
- Remember your purpose – Great performances always begin with a clearly defined purpose. Why are you speaking? What do you want from your audience? What does your audience want from you?
- Visualize success – Why give a speech or presentation if it’s not going to be successful? Believe in yourself. Determine your measure of success—whether it’s a standing ovation, a dynamic Q&A, recognition by your boss or closing a sale—and then envision yourself achieving this goal.
- Embrace your audience – You cannot achieve your purpose or be successful without your audience. In fact, they are your partners in this experience and, as partners, they deserve your respect and admiration.
- Review your Motivating Conclusions – These are the big ideas and key take-aways of your speech or presentation. The messages your audience will remember long after you’re done speaking. Maybe there’s only one, which is just fine. Typically there will be three to five in a 30-minute speech.
- Know what you will say first – This will bolster your confidence and build lasting momentum for the rest of your presentation.
- Balance your stance – I recommend to all my clients that they spend the majority of their speech in a balanced, athletic stance: weight evenly distributed and towards the balls of the feet, with a slight bend of the knees. This grounds you and helps you to “lean forward” towards your audience.
- Set your tempo – At this moment your fight-or-flight reflex is kicking in and you need to make sure you’re not starting out too fast, or even too slow. A technique I share with my clients is to use a favorite mid-tempo song to set the overall pace for your speech.
- Focus on the present – This may be the most difficult, but it’s critical that you are only thinking of this time, this place and this special group of people. Everything else can be dealt with later. Being present allows you to be open and honest, which leads to a stronger audience connection.
- Smile – Let your audience know that you’re happy to be with them. More importantly, this also reminds you of how special this situation is. You have an opportunity to give your audience something of value. Enjoy it!
- Be thankful – Your audience is giving you a very meaningful gift. They have chosen to be with you today and are sharing with you their time and attention. Appreciate it.
These steps will help you to perform at your very best and achieve a greater return from every public speaking opportunity. Depending on the situation, you may not need to do all of them, though I strongly recommend doing 1, 8 and 10 prior to every speech or presentation.
For more public speaking tips, download my white paper on the 5 STEPS TO IMPROVED PERFORMANCE.
What do you do in the moments right before you speak?