It does not take long for someone to have an impression of you; maybe three seconds would do. To make a great first impression here are three critical factors.
- Be on time — In today’s world of someone doing their own thing, punctuality is still important if you want to make a good first impression. Respecting your audiences’ time will always work in your favor.
- Dress for Success — A great rule of thumb is to dress professionally at all times. Suit and tie or a well matched sport jacket shirt and tie. Yes I know about business casual. Unless you know that is appropriate, dress up, for you can always dress down by removing your tie or jacket. However, if you do not have it you cannot dress up.
- Smile — It is the counter sign of Friendship – A sincere smile makes you friendly and the audience will respond in a positive way.
What is the difference between your nervousness and my mine when we speak? The answer is simply, none. It is only a matter of definition. Everyone who speaks has energy in their speaking. The key is how you define that energy, negatively or positively.
An inexperience speaker feels this energy and refers to it as “a case of nervousness”. Something that is a negative and needs to be replaced. Something they feel has to be “worked through”. An experienced speaker feels “passion and enthusiasm” and wants to make their audience enjoy the same experience.
So how do you re-define this energy? The secret to this transformation is simply action. The more you speak, the easier it is for your mind to mentally flip the switch. Some speakers encounter a time where they feel a nervousness suddenly change to excitement or enthusiasm.
Every speaker has energy. It is up to you to set the definition!
All too often speaking professional gesture a not conveying the message they want. In my experience it is due to the lack of strong and expressive body movement. The cure is to exaggerate your gestures when practicing.
An excellent exercise is to practice with both arms up at shoulder height. Make all your gestures from that position. No doubt you will feel awkward, however, when your gestures are expressive your message is more easily understood. Enhance your gesture when giving a presentation and you will come alive in front of any audience. Exaggerate your gestures in practice and they will just right when in front of your audience.
It is important to keep in mind that gestures are the largest part of your message. The lack of gestures limits your ability to communicate the message you want to convey.
Many times whether you are speaking in front of a large audience or in front of a small meeting, knowing how to control a stage will be crucial to controlling your audience. In order to be successful, you need to practice on that stage before you give the actual speech.
One important aspect is to know your sight lines. You will need to walk all parts of your stage to see if every member of your audience can see you. There maybe columns blocking your audience sight lines. You will also need to sit in the different areas of where your audience sits and you must see what your audience sees.
What kind of lights are used to illuminate the staging area. Maybe there are no lights. Are there dark spots or areas that have too much light. What color are the lights? Is the color warm or cold in nature?
If you are using props, do you have an area on stage to store the props?
It is very simple to control your stage but you must first know your stage, the negatives and positives!
One of the side benefits for all speakers is having stage presence. Every speaker on stage in front of an audience, large or small, wants to command the stage and have the audience pay attention to every word that is uttered. Speakers study and practice their speaking skills to achieve this.
One side benefit that anyone who speaks achieves by developing a stage presence is what happens when they walk into a room. People who can command a stage will also command a room that they walk into. The same skills that are used to have a presence when they are in front of an audience can be used when they walk into a room filled with strangers. Many people think that the skills they develop for being in front of audience do not work when they walk into a meeting room or in a social setting. You must realize that the same skill sets that you develop to speak in front of an audience whether it is 300 people or 10 people will help you when you walk into any room whether it is a social gathering or a business meeting.
So, the next time when you into a room and want to command, mentally pretend that you are in fact walking on to a stage!
Over my 30 year career being a professional speaker and trainer I have heard many a story of professionals’ who would talk about how much angst this work is and they are not having much fun. Yes I have also heard that public speaking is the number fear among people, who hasn’t. My intention here is to provide a model to allow you in the speaking profession to have more fun.
So you want to have fun. If you notice the people who have genuine fun in any profession are good at what they do. It is amazing for those who are good at what they do seem to work hard. Well one may ask what does working hard in the speaking professional really mean. It means a great many thing, that is the conundrum. For example learning how to organize a speech whether it is for 3 minutes or a training class for 3 days. Being able to connect with an audience. The skill of crafting the words you use so you are understood by your listeners. Using you voice to convey the right message and you body for visual reinforcement. The ability to use technology in presenting your message, while not to overpower the audience with it.
Malcolm Galdwell, in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success” explains quit eloquently the “10,000 Hour Rule.” Most people fail for they are not will to put the time and effort need to master the chosen field of endeavor. Let examine the model in reverse. If you work hard, you will become good at what you do. When you become good at what you do you will Have Fun doing it.
To bring this home, Brian Tracy said “What is easy to learn is physically hard to do, and what is hard to learn is easy to do.” Think about it!
Lets master our endeavor and go and have fun.