What is the best thing you can do for yourself? Show up!
Before taking the stage, make sure you are pre-prepared with the following tried-and-true tips.
Waiting in the Wings
Before you say a word and await your turn to speak, what will you do? How will you align those butterflies in the stomach? What is the swiftest way to get nervousness under control?
Stand before Speaking
Stand before you speak and the benefits begin. Standing helps regulate the heart. Rather than clambering over people from a seated position, you receive your full applause as you walk from the wings to the center of the stage. Also, when you wait along the sidelines in a standing position you are equal to your introducer.
Standing allows you to connect with your audience in advance. Holding their eye contact while smiling puts you in the right mood. A tacit, positive interchange before you speak brings everyone ease.
If you are speaking at a place where you know only a few members, arrive early. Be there when they arrive. Introduce yourself. To remember a name, repeat the name.
To make more sales, my manager said, “Everyone likes to hear the sound of their own name. Say their name.” People want to hear about themselves. A brief connection with your audience in advance makes your journey on stage easier. Additionally, now you learn details about your audience which you can add extemporaneously, making you an irresistible presenter.
Taking the Stage
You prepared. You are ready to take the stage.
Whenever possible, write your own introduction. Provide it to the person introducing you with plenty of time for review and practice. Make your introduction about one minute in length. Mark Twain remarked how he created his introduction “to make sure I get in all the facts.” After all, who can tell anyone more about you than you?
Another valuable tip is when you find you have too much material for your allotted speech time, use the excess materials as the framework for your introduction. By creating such an introduction, you give yourself the gift of almost a minute more time—because now the announcer is stating your words. Rather like sewing a dress, using the leftover remnants to create a corsage, use your leftover speech remnants to create an introduction.
An ideal handshake is one made with clean, dry hands. Wipe hands discreetly if they are sweaty. Execute the handshake firmly, with the right hand at a 90-degree angle. Maintain good posture and eye contact.
An added hand on the shoulder can feel like invaded space. Shaking with two hands can feel too intimate.
As you take your announcer’s hand in greeting, shake hands firmly. Do not give your announcer a floppy fish to figure out or a such a terrific squeeze that their eyes bug out.
Assume the Stage
To avoid the dance of “bumper cars” when your emcee exits, you can gently lead your announcer behind you as you ease forward. Simply yet firmly assume your stage.
The Courage to be Quiet
What is the first thing to do once you have control of the podium or microphone?
Answer: Nothing. Pause and be still. Allow your announcer to be seated and your audience to resettle themselves, and they will view you as courteous and in turn respect you for it.
Have the courage to be quiet. Each audience has a unique personality. A “Global Brain,” if you will. Get to know it. Listen for the funny crackles in the back row or the heavy eye contact coming from the front.
While waiting for your audience, take care of yourself. Drop anchor. “Dropping anchor” means to sink into one place on the stage and own it. Rather than bobbing about like an aimless canoe, drop into your shoes and take command of one space.
When I take charge of the stage, my internal voice says, “The only people allowed on this stage are those I let on here. I own this place.” Have a strong message for yourself. Be your own cheering section. And at last....
Now Begin Your Talk!
By: Christine A. Robinson
Professional Speaker, Author, Writer