It's been a week of preparation and you’ve rehearsed in front everything and everyone, including, but notwithstanding mirrors, husbands and even cats. You’re geared up and ready to go. The stage is set, you start talking and within a few minutes, half of your audience, instead of glazing at you, locks their eyes into their gadgets. How to keep people entertained and win back those whose attention you’ve lost? I’ve uncovered the eight secrets of successful stage performance, which will help you keep even the most capricious audience.
Prepare your speech and reserve the time for improvisation
It may sound obvious, but in fact, preparation is key. Undoubtedly, you know your product well, but winging it without preparation is a skill that only a few possess. Acquaint yourself with the topic, make a plan, create a script. A day before your performance, rehearse. This will reduce stress and will help avoid unnecessary phrases and words. That said, I definitely don’t remember the text word by word. Leave some space for your on-the-spot creativity and interacting with the audience. This will not only make it more interesting but also help make things lifer and easier to remember.
Before going out there find yourself in a tranquil environment. If you don’t, your fear will be noticeable to the public and will cause distance and discomfort. Listening to someone who’s stressed is hard- instinctively listeners stop themselves from engaging. Take a few deep breaths, smile and relax your back. These short and simple techniques should relax your body, however, if that hasn’t helped, you can always try a power stance. Just spread your legs so they’re in one line with your arms and spread your arms as wide as you can. Stand like that for two minutes and all of a sudden- they’re fear’s gone.
Don`t forget about the Colombo effect
Once on stage, the first thing you should introduce yourself. A great start is half the job. It’s your first interaction with the audience, so you’re aiming at gaining the audience’s interest and attention. Don’t tell people your entire formal name and what you do exactly- they’ll already now that from the program. Open yourself up to the public and make them feel like you’re one of them, either by admitting to some weaknesses or sharing a secret. It works like a Colombo affect - the audience will love you.
Keep it simple
“Transformability and changeability of the recipient is a prerogative for anchoring listeners”. You’d think that this is a line taken out of a school book, which has probably been spelled out to you by a tedious professor, but actually, it’s a citation from a speech. During your performance, think about your audience. Speak as clearly as possible. Revert to complicated terms only if you know your audience knows them like the back of their hands and know what “transformability” and “anchoring” means. Provided you really need to introduce professional jargon, make sure to explain what you mean. Moreover, avoid using over-complicated. Verbs, adverbs, and participles. If you’re supporting what you’re saying with data, put it on the big screen. Your presentation has to be similar to a song- understandable and inspiring.
Convert numbers to figures
If you’re measuring things, try to find suitable, but more interesting equivalents. For example, if you’re measuring a distance, instead of kilometres, explain the length in the number of playing fields it would take to cover. You may do the same with weight, where instead of kilograms you’ll explain the weight of something in the number of elephants.
Use the body language (but not like Nikita Khrushchev)
Support your gravity with body language. Of course, my advice would be not to use much else than your hands, however, if you see fit, why not stamp your feet to the ground in order to underline something you want to say? Naturally, some, like Nikita Khrushchev overdid it with bashing his heel on the podium, so it’s best to check with others that you’re not overdoing it. Body language also includes your face, so don’t be shy to lift your eyebrows, widen your eyes and smile! Remember what goes around comes around and this includes smiling. Finally, be mindful of your pose. Make sure you don’t cross your arms and that your shoulders aren’t hunched over- those a rookie mistakes and they give your listeners an impression you don’t want to be there.
Let your audience tell
During your speech it’s a great idea to share your thoughts, views and opinions. Speakers usually feel this desperate urge to express everything that’s on their mind, which may backfire if they take too long to explain what they mean. In order to avoid that happening, include your audience into your thought process. Give them a chance to think about what you’re saying and process the information gradually. The easiest way to do this is by surveying the audience before you start your main point. Just tell some quote and ask the audience to put their hands up if they are agree or disagree.
Never leave without saying goodbye
The ending is no less important than the beginning. Make sure to allow your audience to ask you some questions and never leave without saying goodbye. Many people are shy of asking questions publicly in fear of looking silly or drawing unwanted attention, that’s why you should always encourage anyone to ask you their questions privately. Further, leave your contact details- be it your email, Facebook or Linkedin. Finally, it might be a good idea to include your picture on the last slide with your contact details, as many take pictures of it on their smartphones. When contacting you later, they’ll have a fresh image of you and your presentation.
I hope this helped and all the best for your next presentation!