Nervousness is a Good Thing!

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We hear from some new and experienced speakers that say they want to control their nervousness and many want to eliminate it altogether. We believe that being nervous has a distinct advantage.

How many of us have been at a presentation listening to a presenter who seemingly just drones on and on. They show no signs of any nervous energy and as a matter of fact are at the opposite end of the spectrum. They speak with a boring and lackluster style.

Being nervous gives you the edge. It will add energy to your presentation. Every presenter is nervous. What is important is whether you control the nervousness or it controls you. Every speaker who shows nervousness has that threshold where is goes from the audience is excited and cheering for you, to where your audience is uncomfortable. You must learn where your threshold is.

There are several ways to control your nervousness. First, acknowledge you will be nervous. Second, practice as much as you can so that you know your presentation inside and out. Lastly, think of possible scenarios that may heighten your nervousness and develop strategies to use the nervousness to your advantage.

Being nervous is not something you should fear, rather it should be a tool to make your speech better.

What the Nightly News Programs can Teach Speakers

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How many speakers watch the nightly news programs and applied what they learned to their presentations? The key point that you can take away is how fast the announcers go from one story to the next. Stories are compact, short lived and quickly grab your attention. In a space of 30 minutes, you may have many stories.

The danger of not constantly holding your audience’s attention is that they may mentally use their brain as a remote control and zap you to the next channel. This maybe simply just daydreaming or looking at their smartphone.

Your forty-five minute presentation may be one topic, however think in terms of five to six minute scenes. Each scene is built around your points and sub-points. Also in each scene there is a sentence that you deliberately inserted to direct your audience to what you want them to take away.

Learn from the best, to make your presentation the best.

Always Check your Mic Clip, Stands, and Cabling

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Have you ever been speaking on a mic at the lectern and for whatever reason you decided to walk away from the lectern  – only then to find yourself unable to take the mic away from the mic stand or mic clip? 

Remember, before you speak at the lectern, always test you mic and check out your ability to take the mic with you, away from the lectern, as you walk around the room, stage, or platform.  Don’t be ‘locked to the lectern’ so to speak.  Think of this microphone at the lectern as a grab-and-go mic.  At all costs, you want to avoid any reason for the mic to hold you hostage at the lectern. 

 This could happen to you, so let’s look at some situations and how to avoid them in the future:

 Check the tension on the mic clip

 Not all mic clips are made the same way.  Some fit more snugly than others.  Have you ever grabbed a mic that is held with a mic clip and then you found that mic clip to be very tight – so tight that you are struggling to get it out of the mic clip?  Don’t let this happen.  Check your mic clip before you speak and make sure you can get the mic free when you need to.

 Make sure the [wired] mic cables are free and unwound.

 If you’re using a wired mic at the lectern and it is a mic provided by a sound or technical team (other than yourself), make sure the cable attached to the mic has a long enough mic cord to stretch the entire distance – wherever you are going in the room.  Here’s  the thought behind this:  Sometimes, when the AV team or sound person places a “lectern mic’, they may set it up to look pretty and have the cables all nice looking and tightly wound up around the lectern and mic stand {we call that a gooseneck} and then they might also put the excess cable underneath the lectern, out of sight.  When you go to grab that mic to take it away from the lectern, it won’t be easy, if at all possible.  Make sure you have checked all the cabling before your talk and even consider having the mic cable positioned so that it can be easily unwound, away from the lectern when you need remove it. and when you go to grab the mic it may not budge.

(FYI…Remember, some venues do still use wired microphone systems!)

 If you’re using a wireless mic at the lectern

 Check to mic clip or mic stand to make sure the ‘fit’ of the clip holding the mic is not too tight.  Usually, you can remove the Handheld mic from the mic clip, but sometimes the clip holding the mic is configured in such a way that it is difficult to grab the mic  and leave the lectern.  Test this out and see if this is the case at the lectern mic being used is not

 Request a wireless handheld mic. 

 For an even better portable mic option, a handheld, wireless mic allows you to move more freely across the stage.  Keep in mind, though,  If you’re renting the mic, this will almost always be the more expensive microphone option  than with a ‘wired’ mic, but you can make sure there won’t be any cables attached to the mic which might hold you down when you want to walk away.

 Request a lapel mic

 Here again, you can request a wireless lapel mic option that allows you the same, if not, more freedom to walk around the stage.  With this type of mic, you can freely gesture without worrying about holding the microphone in one hand or the other.

 Bring in your own gear

 If the scenario permits, bring in your own wireless mic system, and you can alleviate many of these issues because you [should] know how your system works and the best way to set it up for your speaking style. 

 Stay tuned for future blogs discussing what types of basic audio gear you can invest in to make your speaking life a lot easier for you when you are in front of the audience.

 

What is Your Status When Speaking

          

The status you display when speaking has a major effect on how you communicate. Is your body displaying high or low status, and depending on the message you are conveying, they need to be in harmony.

 

High status is shown in the animal kingdom and in humans as appearing big. Shoulders up and back, arms away from the body, head up and straight, as well as feet apart. Show superiority and confidence. Low status is demonstrated by closing in on oneself. Head and shoulders down, arms close to the body, legs together and even bent at the knee. This shows inferiority and submissiveness.

 

As we develop our talk we need to take the status we want to portray into consideration. For example, if you are demonstrating a person that is going through a difficult time struggling in life’s journey, a low status posture may be more believable. However, as this person achieves success, the posture tends to become a higher status. You transform right in front of your audiences eyes. When your status and your words are in harmony, you create a memorable message

The Use of Notes, helpful or not so helpful

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Using notes is never a problem. It is ‘how’ you use notes that is crucial. For example, you are only doing a five minute speech, then it may be a simple three by five inch card with one or two hand written words. Of course, if you are doing a half-day technical workshop, notes that are typed and on several sheets may be needed.

One key consideration to remember is the use of notes should never interfere with the connection between you and your audience. If your notes are small, compact and hard to read, you may lose your eye contact with your audience once too often. In this case, notes that are typed with a large font, on several numbered pages and can be read three to four feet away may be the best. This will allow you to glance quickly at these notes and still maintain eye contact with your audience.

Remember to think of notes as another tool to connect with your audience and not as a distraction.

The Unspoken Agenda Between the Audience and Speaker.

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During most speeches, there is an agenda between the speaker and the audience. Speakers may want to have the audience ‘do something’ or ‘take some sort of action.’ They are going to present facts, figures and anecdotes to convince the audience on why they should. If done correctly, there will be action on the part of the audience.

On the other hand, the audience is making a decision on whether not this is something they want to do. They will take the information given and decide if this is valuable to them and their time will not be wasted. During the final second if the speaker did everything correct, the audience will say; “This speaker is absolutely correct and I need to do this!”

Some presentations have no impact on their audiences because this idea is not taken into consideration. To be successful in a presentation think of your ideas as sharp arrows shot by a bow to the bull’s eye, rather a scatter gun approach.

Follow the Bouncing Ball

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One potential problem for some speakers is keeping track of where they are going in their presentation. One method is using notes. These notes provide a roadmap of where to go. Of course if you accidently shuffle your notes, you may put them out of order. If the font is small, they may be hard to read. Notes have advantages and dis-advantages.

Another simple method is to use a written outline. Then memorize this outline and turn it into a mind map. As you speak you can visualize this mind map to see where you are going in your speech. Of course, making the mind map overly complex defeats your original purpose. As you speak you can mentally see your major points and pretend there is a bouncing ball going from one point to another. Your minor points can be simply just words and your bouncing ball can go from one point to another as if you were watching subtitles on a movie screen.

The key is having a simple and effective method to lead your audience.