It’s October, and that means there are certain things to look forward to again. There’s pumpkin pie, seasonal beers, Halloween and, if you’re in high-tech public relations, many prominent events opening up their calls for presentations (CFPs).
Securing speaking slots for clients is one of the hardest things PR pros do, mainly because of how fierce the competition is. However, when a speaking proposal is accepted, it goes a long way toward establishing the company spokesperson as a thought leader. This serves as a PR and lead generation tool, building trust between the presenter and the audience and increasing the likelihood of customers selecting their brand over the competition. To put it simply, presentations at well-respected industry events are a very big deal, and as such, they warrant proper preparation.
Even the most seasoned speakers can experience some pre-speech jitters. When nerves are high just before taking center stage, what’s a speaker to do? Joan Detz, a nationally recognized speech coach and writer, and one of my favorite public speaking authors, has some excellent suggestions for handling this situation:
1. Make the opening lines of the speech clear and crisp. Know them by heart. Sounding confident, even if you’re not, establishes credibility with the audience and can boost your actual confidence level.
2. Speak a bit louder than usual. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of nervous energy. In fact, it can convey your excitement. Detz recommends speaking to a few specific individuals toward the back of the room.
3. Make strategic eye contact. The key word in the previous tip was individuals. Speaking to the back wall tends to make nerves worse. Instead, make strategic eye contact with a few individuals, even if it’s just for brief periods of time. This makes it feel like you’re having a regular conversation and alleviates a lot of the tension you might be feeling.