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I say death is permanent; public speaking is temporary. Yet, I still fear the latter more.
Nearly everyone speaks in public at one time or another. But to me, the concept of “public speaking” does not consist of speaking to a sizable crowd of 500-plus, but more likely it’s speaking to a small group (three-plus). No, I don’t mean talking with three of your co-workers qualifies as public speaking, but presenting to a group of three-plus does.
I’m not getting into the psychology of it all, but I will let you in on what I do to overcome it.
Believe it or not, even after four years of speech and debate, a major in communication and the fact I enjoy public speaking, I still get nervous before a presentation, it’s true. But here are some simple steps you can add into your next presentation to help get you through it:
Overcoming Pre-presentation Stress
Don’t fight it. If you’re nervous, you’re going to be nervous no matter what–so just relax, keep breathing and remember what you’re going to say.
During the Presentation
Be conversational. Keep it light and if possible, try to engage the audience a bit. Get them loosened up and they’ll be more receptive to what you’re saying and hopefully participate more.
Roll with it. Don’t be a stickler and think everything you planned must be said. If you get off on a tangent that is relevant and the audience is digging what you’re saying, then by all means, keep going. If a question arises and that spins off to a huge speech about something else, then more questions are asked, there’s no need to mess with the flow. If you missed important points, try to incorporate them.
Self-deprecation. I use it all the time and it helps the crowd (and me) feel more at ease. It may seem bad to make fun of your self, but it’s never anything serious and I feel better because the crowd is more responsive.
Just have fun. Sure, public speaking is not for everyone. But if you do it even somewhat well, you gain the respect of everyone who hates doing it, so practically the entire room will respect you. And, unlike death, it’s only a temporarily thing. In a few minutes it’ll be over and you will feel better.
I hope these tips help you the next time you’re presenting to a group of people. If you do something different that helps. then by all means leave me a comment below.
P.S. Don’t forget to breathe.
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