Thursday, August 11 2022

When you are about to make a presentation, speak at an important meeting, have a pressurized call, or even just go back to work to talk to people again IRL, the last thing you want to feel is helpless. It is important that you feel comfortable and in control of the situation.

There are many ways to control speaking anxiety, but what speakers often forget is that they are in control of the room when they are presenting.

Now, it’s important to remember what your audience wants to hear and tailor your message to your specific audience. However, you have a few superpowers up your sleeve that will allow you to take control of the room, your speech, and your message.

If you keep the following three points in mind, you will end up in the driver’s seat and be in control of both your speech and the room.

The power of your thoughts

Too often there is an obligation to say everything you have practiced in your living room. Keep in mind that the best speakers stay in the moment. They read their audience and stay flexible. Many people tend to forget that those who are listening have no idea what they are about to say. They may know the topic, but they don’t know the context. Only the speaker has control.

The reason this is such a powerful tool to remember is that if you forget what you are saying and get lost, only you will know. The audience will never know. If you mess up or forget your thought flow, just move on to the next topic or summarize. They have no way of knowing that you “skipped” part of your presentation. Being fully aware of this gives you so much flexibility in the moment and gives you the power of ease as you present. And that, in itself, puts you — not the auditor—in full control.

The power of pause

While it may seem counterintuitive, pauses and silence are very helpful when communicating. When preparing for your presentation, a few well-placed breaks can highlight your message. And the longer the pause or silence, the more you insist on your key message. Think of it as bold or italic ready to go to your point. Well-placed silence increases audience listening and retention by 30-40%.

This power is also useful in unforeseen times, especially when you get lost or find that you are speaking too fast for your audience to understand. If you’re off track or rushing through your post, it probably means you and the audience could enjoy a break for a while. It may be uncomfortable at first to test this super power, but remember that there is power in silence. Take it from Justin Trudeau. Now you can get back on track and the listener can refocus.

The other reason to use a break …

See?

You were curious to read more. It’s the same when you talk. If you make a sound and suddenly stop, we can’t wait to find out what’s next, what you’re doing, and what’s happening. Now you have fully engaged us as auditors.

The power of time

This is the most difficult to remember. When you speak it’s your time. It doesn’t matter if you planned to speak at length at a board meeting and now, due to the time, you only have five minutes. The point is, you have five minutes, and those minutes are yours.

This is important to remember because what you do with this time is completely up to you. Are you going to panic and try to compress an hour of detailed information into a five-minute interval? Or are you going to channel your inner charisma to engage your audience and make your most important points and land them with the time you have?

The other reason time is on your side is because it’s universally recognized that when a speaker is speaking, most audiences will wait until you wrap up, or have been cut off, to cut you off. It’s empowering because you maintain the attention for the time allotted to you. What you do with this time is entirely up to you. The power is in your hands to teach something new, to provoke meaningful thought and, above all, to broadcast your thoughts to the world.

You will quickly reap the benefits of being in control of your speaking and having control of the room if you use these techniques. So don’t be a regular speaker. Be the speaker with superpowers.


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