In this series of how to gain powerful impact in your presentation, we’ve spent alot of time on how you prepare. As in business, it’s the work you do upfront which creates value later on. Today I’d like to share with you what happens the moment you come before your audience.
Laurence Olivier, one of the most famous Shakespearian actor/managers of the 20th century who helped to found London’s National Theatre and starred in some outstanding movies (‘Rebecca’, ‘Spartacus’, ‘Sleuth’) used to be sick in the wings just before he went on stage, he was so frightened. It’s normal to feel a sense of anticipation – though it can get out of hand! Getting prepared and knowing what you’re going to do helps reduce the nerves.
Another thing that will help you with anxiety sounds counter-intuitive. When you stand in front of your audience, just wait. Why? You are waiting for them to settle, quieten and start to pay you attention. Help them make that transition from chatter to attentiveness by being silent, smiling slightly. You are standing with weight on both feet and breathing slowly. Look slowly round the room, count to 10……..THEN begin.
If you do this, you’ll find it’s incredibly powerful. Why?
- You convey utter confidence in yourself and your material
- You are taking command of the room
- Your audience will recognise your leadership
- It helps to slow you down so you ground yourself
You would be surprised at how much your audience desperately needs for you to start slowly. They need to get used to your voice as well as your material. To use an analogy, they are at the station and you are the train that will take them somewhere – to your destination. You must allow them to clamber on board your ‘thought train’. Take your time. Once they’re on board, you can afford to quicken your pace. Not yet! Be patient with them. They need your guidance. Once they’re on board, then you can move off, you can afford to quicken your pace.