Standing in front of thousands of people and 10 million more watching on TV is not easy. Most of us would worry about speaking in front of the entire company, let alone the entire country.
Last night at the Republican National Convention, Tiffany Trump (the youngest daughter of GOP nominee Donald Trump) gave a good speech that showed she is a thoughtful and articulate person. (You can watch the speech here.)
Yet there were a few mistakes that, had she avoided them, would have made the speech much better. Keep them in mind if you ever need to give a similar talk in front of a large audience.
1. Never tell people you're nervous.
This is a common mistake, so you can't blame Tiffany for starting out by admitting she was nervous. What it does for the audience, though, is make them a little nervous, too. In most cases, people won't notice you are nervous unless you stumble over your words or if you're shaking. (She didn't do either of those things.) Worse, it makes the audience focus on your anxiety, not on what you say. They're almost waiting for you to slip up. Instead of saying you're nervous, remind yourself about where that stress is coming from. For most of us, we get anxious about a speech because we want to succeed and we want to communicate effectively. Stress shows you care about the speech. Use that to your advantage by improving the content and delivery.
2. Even if you're reading, don't act like you're reading.
Several of the speakers at the RNC were obviously reading from a teleprompter. It was interesting how some of them, particularly Dr. Ben Carson, appeared to have memorized their speech even though they were probably reading it. That's the secret to a good delivery. Yes, you may need to read the speech if it's something that had to be approved beforehand. With such a large audience, you don't want to wing it (unless you're a professional speaker). Regardless, the trick is to appear so smooth, to speak so effortlessly and so confidently, and to rehearse so thoroughly that no one would even know you're reading or that you memorized anything.
3. Avoid downplaying your accomplishments.
As I mentioned, it was a good speech. What stuck out to me is that there were a few lessons to learn about giving a speech when it is not something you normally do. One of the most revealing moments came when she downplayed her accomplishments, that she was a college grad who had not experienced as much in life. For me, this tends to slow a speech down because you think about whether the person lacks confidence. It's better to focus on what you have accomplished--graduating from college is a big deal! When you state a few milestones in your life, the audience inserts their own touch points into the narrative; we think about our own graduation or the baby steps we made early in adult life. When you suggest you have not experienced enough yet, it puts the audience into a different mode. We don't think about our own accomplishments. We think about our own lack of credentials.