You have an upcoming keynote, but every time you sit down to plan it out, you start to feel a little knot in your tummy – as if your body is screaming PLEASE DON’T!
It’s ok to feel a little nervous (I still do, even though I’ve done the public speaking thing for years now), but you don’t want that to stand in your way of absolutely rocking the stage. And it doesn’t have to.
I’ve helped a ton of people take the stage, and over the years, I’ve noticed that there are a few simple steps that can make a huge difference in the final product.
So don’t worry, you’ve got this! Just follow along and you’ll be rocking it in no time.
Step 1: Set a goal
Clarity is key. If you’re not quite sure what you want your audience to know, do or believe once they’re done listening to you, you’ll constantly question the material you’re presenting and whether your message is working. (Tweet it. You know you love it. 🙂
Basically, this is a recipe for disaster. We want to clear out that fuzzy feeling by setting a goal for ourselves.
I like to do this by writing out a purpose statement. What is it that you want the audience to know, do or believe by the time you’re done? Force yourself to write it out in one, clear sentence.
Now you know exactly what needs to happen during this speech and this should start to ease some of that anxiety.
Step 2: Visualize your perfect speech
I don’t typically get into all of the breathing and visualization techniques, it just isn’t my thing (because I focus more on the content), but I know that the fastest way to feel better about taking the stage is to be really clear on what that experience is going to look and feel like.
I used to have my students stand in the front of the room for a few minutes a day or two before they presented their first speech. They were often surprised that it felt so different from that side of the room!
But how much better is it to discover that awkward, uncomfortable feeling before you actually try to deliver a speech in front of a crowd?
If you have the opportunity to check out the venue, go ahead and do it. And stand on stage. See what it looks like, what it feels like and acknowledge any uneasy feelings that pop up.
If you can’t get there, or can’t get on stage, try your best to imagine yourself in the situation. Bonus points if you can imagine yourself telling your most inspirational story, or your opener. The clearer your visuals, the better you’ll be on speech day.
Step 3: Connect with your audience
It’s easier to talk to people you know than people you don’t. But, you won’t always speak to an audience full of friends.
If you find yourself in a place where you’re speaking to a room full of strangers, don’t worry! You can make friends real quick!
If you have a chance, mingle with the audience before you go live. Introduce yourself, say hi, chat about the weather, the conference, whatever.
If that isn’t a possibility, that’s ok. You can still start the speech off casually by making direct contact and smiling at two or three people in the audience before you start. Or, brainstorm a lead in question to start the speech in a very conversational way so they feel like they know you and you feel like you know them.
Remember that the best keynotes are those that both deliver value and also connect with the audience. If you set a goal, visualize success and connect with your audience, you’re bound to deliver an amazing presentation.
Your turn – in the comments below, let me know if you have any tips to help you deliver a great speech. I’d love to hear!
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Sandy empowers the young and talented to increase their power and influence by improving their ability to be heard and be clear. She does this by providing access to rigorously tested research in the communication, psychology, and marketing fields.