Public speaking is one of the scariest things that we human beings can put ourselves through. It is often said that people are less afraid of death or the dentist. Why do we find it so traumatic? Regular columnist Debbie Zita gives us three tips to speaking with grace to assist you on your speaking journey.
So what is grace? It is the ability to display elegance, style and poise. It is also associated with a sense of ease and beauty. You may have heard it been said “she has the natural grace of a ballerina”.
1. Own your message
This is about connecting deeply to what it is that you are speaking about. Find a way to understand the topic in an emotional way so that you are able to express this to your audience. It is a good idea to ask yourself the following questions:
– Why should we care about this topic?
– What will you gain my knowing and understanding this?
– How can I express what I am talking about with passion? E.g. The use of stories about people, who have used or experienced what you are talking about, is a great way to connect with your audience on a personal and emotional level.
The key here is to remember that you need to believe and understand your topic in order for your audience to.
2. Connect with your audience
The most important thing that you can do before you step up on stage or enter into a conversation, is take the time to breathe and calm yourself. The next thing to do is to tune into your audience. Even if you have no idea what that means, you can imagine yourself ‘tuning in’. The way to do that is to imagine what the person or the collective audience might be experiencing right then and there. What time of the day is it? What is the weather like? Do you get the sense that your audience is feeling calm, excited or stressed? No need to DO anything. You are just simply noticing. What this does is it a) takes the focus off you and b) Connects you to your audience.
Once you have begun your talk, keep in mind that your connection with your audience continues. Here are a few simple ways to connect;
– Look at your audience every so often. You should feel that you are making eye contact with at least one person for every minute or two that you have looked away
– Smile and breathe when you can
– Ask questions to the audience that invite them to raise their hands e.g. “is this making sense?” Put your hand up as you say that so they will to. IF they are confused and ask a question, you can simply answer it then (chances are it will benefit the group too) Or you can say ‘great question, I will get to that at the end.’
– Connect with people in the audience who are smiling and or nodding. This will give you more confidence and motivation to continue. Also remember that there will be people who fall asleep, walk out or seem like they hate you. Assume they are tired, need the toilet or are having a crap day.
3. Embrace your grace
We all know what we should be doing in a talk. Speak slowly, make eye contact and don’t swear or say umm. Okay so think back to the last person that you thought was an amazing speaker. Someone who you believe spoke with grace. This can be at work, on TV or in a seminar. What was it about their talk that you loved so much? Was it the content or the way they delivered it? Was it the fact that they did not say umm or the fact that you just thought they had a great personality?
It is human nature to want to be liked but reality is this, not everyone will like you. Some people in the audience will think your great and some will not think of you at all. The greatest way to connect with your audience in a graceful way is to embrace your own grace! If you have a vivacious personality that is loud – be that person. If you are someone who is softly spoken and guarded – be softly spoken and guarded.
People appreciate you. The authentic and perfectly imperfect you.
Debbie Zita is a highly sought after spiritual mentor for women entrepreneurs. She has been busy changing lives on and off stage at various women’s business and spiritual events and has been blessed to have trained with Cheryl Richardson (author of The Art of Extreme Self-Care), Reid Tracey (Hay House CEO) and Doreen Virtue. Debbie currently mentors women to live the life and business of their dreams.