As a proud graduate of the University of Connecticut Business School and experienced leader, Jasdeep Singh of CT has held numerous positions requiring a good amount of public speaking. Jasdeep Singh of CT is often asked to present at business meetings and conferences. In addition to questions from the audience regarding the topic, Jasdeep Singh will often be asked by members of the audience how he remains calm on stage, which got him thinking of a few different public speaking tips to help anyone dreading getting up in front of a crowd.
#1. Don’t Let Nerves Deter You
Almost everyone experiences nervous energy before public speaking. In fact, it would be unusual to not have any anticipatory energy, like most professional performers do. Nerves can manifest as a “fight or flight” respond, such as increased heartrate and sweaty, shaky hands. However, rest assured that these reactions do not predict future performance. Jasdeep Singh recommends acknowledging these nerves and remind yourself nerves mean you care about the performance and will actually help you stay energized on stage. Often, people will try to suppress this energy, but the a goal should be to harness these reactions, such as using them to keep you alert, or to reduce them, such as through mindful breathing . By leaning into the feeling, you can put yourself in a much more positive frame of mind.
One of the reasons we may experience stress is because we care deeply of messing up something we care about, like a presentation, or a fear of the unknown, such as potentially making a mistake. The what-ifs of a public speaking scenario are enough to weigh heavily on anyone’s mind. To reduce stress, the first step is to prepare. This includes reviewing the source material repeatedly and practicing in an environment as close to the presentation space as possible. Having a comfort level with as many of the variables as possible will allow you to reduce certain fears and focus more on the performance. Practice, practice, practice!
Another way to calm nerves is to increase your confidence regarding the source material and the message. This comes from not only knowledge of the material but also understanding the audience and the content you’re hoping to convey. Confidence can only come from feeling comfortable with the who, what, and why of the speaking event. When preparing for a public speaking engagement, think of the audience first. Their prior knowledge, reason for being there and intended outcome can shape their interaction with you and your message. Think about the differences among those attending a science conference, political convention, or wedding and use that knowledge as a way to plan your practice.
2. Be Organized
Jasdeep Singh of CT recommends having a framework for every speech. This framework starts with a beginning hook, the main topic, covers the specific purpose, the central idea, and a bulleted list of main points. Then, the focus should shift to grabbing the audience’s attention again in the last thirty seconds with a concept for them to remember.
There are many different ways to capture attention. You can appeal to the creativity of the audience with some Q&A,say something unconventional, such as different take on the central message, provide a personal message, or they can tell a joke. Jasdeep Singh of CT notes that the best way to grab attention will vary based on the audience and the strengths of the speaker. If jokes are something that comes easy, you should lean into that skillset. If you have a personal story that directly relates to the topic, definitely go thatway. There are few hard rules here, except to accept your weaknesses and play to your strengths.
Don’t Just Read
When speakers keep their heads down and read off of a piece of paper or their phone, they lose the ability to connect with an audience. Jasdeep Singh of CT suggests gauging the reaction of the crowd at various points in order to adjust the message if needed. Two ways to assess the audience is to pick a few people with who to make eye contact at times and take pauses to listen to the audience. No matter how factually accurate, canned speeches are nearly guaranteed to lose a crowd’s attention. When youprepare and rehearse, it is not to deliver a word-for-word recitation of a speech; it is to have the ability to speak from the heart and still have the ability to touch on all of the important points.
When in Doubt, Be Yourself
Jasdeep Singh of CT has always found that the speeches that have resonated the most with him are the ones where he got a sense of the speaker’s personality. It’s so much easier to stay true to oneself than to try and emulate the style of someone with a different personality. Some speakers even acknowledge their nerves to the audience as an ice-breaker. When a speaker is genuine, the audience will appreciate their efforts and engage in the materials. Finally, know that mistakes are common and usually only you, the speaker, will notice. The audience doesn’t know where the material is headed, so don’t let a slip of the tongue or a forgotten bullet deter you from forging ahead and then patting yourself on the back at end.