It is said that the fear of presenting in front of an audience is ranked higher than the fear of death. Death only happens once, but public speaking can happen to you again and again, with the knowledge that you will have to live through the feedback afterwards. Let’s face it, once you are dead, people won’t critique how you died, and if they do, you won’t be around to hear it!
So, how do you get over that fear so it doesn’t appear to your audience?
I believe that the fear we face in front of an audience is based on thinking “Will they like what I say?”
When you think this your brain automatically starts scanning the audience to see if they are buying what you are saying. You are looking to your audience to validate you.
But your audience can’t validate you in the first few minutes of your presentation. Why? Because they have come to the presentation with their own agenda and at this point they don’t know whether you’re going to satisfy their agenda or not. So in the first few minutes of your presentation they are trying to determine exactly what they will get out of this talk. So you will get a lot a quizzical looks, concerned expressions, or blank faces. Don’t worry, this is normal.
This is why it is so important that you clearly tell the audience what they will get out of the conversation with you. By clearly stating upfront what you will be sharing with the audience, you are letting them know what you expect of them. This allows people to immediately assess if they are in the right spot and that the information will be relevant to them.
Don’t be one of those boring speakers that starts with “Hi, my name is…” Instead, try to capture their attention immediately.
Here are some ways that you can let the audience know what they will get out of their time with you:
¨ “Today we will look at four ways you can improve your sales.”
¨ “After this presentation, you will see why we need to have a new system to process our clients’ orders.”
¨ “I will demonstrate how to use the four steps that you can apply to change how you think, listen, and build your presentations.”
If you use one of the above statements in the first two to three minutes of your talk, the audience will absolutely know what they are going to get from their time with you. There is no guesswork involved for the audience, because you have laid out a clear path for them to follow.
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