Do you still wonder how you should move or where you should look when presenting on stage? I've presented for years, watched hundreds of presenters, and I still wonder what to do with my hands sometimes.
This is why I was happy to get some practical advice from the best vocal coach in the U.S., Roger Love. Roger Love made his bones helping artists like Gwen Stefani, Def Leppard, and Bradley Cooper (on A Star Is Born) improve their voices. While he started coaching singers, he also coaches public speakers. Tony Robbins, John Gray, and Suze Orman all have him to thank for keeping their voices fresh and strong.
Once a year, Love hosts the "Voice of Success Live," a three-day seminar for speakers who want to improve their presentation and vocal techniques beyond the offerings found in his online courses. I attended the most recent event in Downtown Los Angeles in March. Here are four tips Love gave attendees on how to be more comfortable and confident when connecting with audiences.
To get comfortable, get to the event early. Go the night before or the morning of. Explore the stage space. Become familiar with your surroundings. How much room do you have to move? Where are the lights? Are there any obstacles to avoid or props you can use to aid your talk?
Next: walk through the audience seats from front to back. Look at the seats from the stage in different rows and imagine someone liking your speech. This is what Love does when presenting for both large and small groups.
Dress the part.
To increase your confidence, dress the part. When you dress like an expert, you will feel like an expert. Don't come in wearing your everyday clothes.
This doesn't mean you need to wear a three-piece suit or formal dress. Find the clothes that fit the part you play but which are also fit your comfort level. Love wears a sports jacket, button-down shirt, slacks, and Louboutin shoes when he speaks. He feels comfortable and like a successful expert.
Use notes to involve your audience in your talk. Memorized talks feel inauthentic. And if you forget a line or idea, it can throw off the whole speech. Instead, use bullet points to stay on topic and in the moment. It will make your talk appear fresh, sound conversational, and involve the audience.
Love prefers to write out his key speaking points on a note sheet or convenience monitor. When he's ready for the next point, Love takes a quick glance at the bullet, then jumps right back into connecting with the audience and sharing about his content--free from scripted lines and the temptation to read complete sentences.
Know where to look.
If you want to connect with your audience, you need to look at their eyes and body language. Avoid staring over their heads or down at your feet. If you don't engage with them visually, the audience will not engage with you.
Avoid staring. Instead, pick out people who are responding to your talk in nearby rows. Gaze at one person for a count of one, two, three; then move on to another person.
If you are speaking in a large hall, concentrate on looking at people in the front rows. For the people far away, just look up and give a smile. That will make your distant friends feel included.
These techniques from Roger Love should help you to feel more comfortable and confident when speaking so you can connect and engage with your audience. Try them out at your next talk and let me know what happens.