I am addicted to learning, so I’m fortunate that there are so many opportunities to learn for free! I’m constantly registering for webinars, online classes , or local meet-ups hoping to gain valuable insight. But between the organizations I joined while I was in college to the classes that I’ve had the opportunity to teach to college students, I have become very critical of presentation skills. Sometimes I attend these events and receive life-alterning information, but other times I realize that my day would’ve been better spent watching my favorite cartoon. And the other day, I had one of those, “Man, I missed my tv show for this?!” moments.
As the presenter spoke, I came up with a longer and longer list of things that I wanted to tell her. But it would’ve been terribly rude for me to critique her after the presentation ended, so instead I’ll just share my thoughts with you. Keep in mind, these tips apply to any type of speaking engagement: presentations, interviews, networking events, or simply raising your hand and speaking up to share your opinion. So here it is:
8 ways to silence your doubters the minute you open your mouth
- Honestly ask yourself, “Is this worth listening to?”. Before deciding on a topic or volunteering to speak up, make sure that your message will have a substantial impact. Nothing’s worse than people walking away empty handed from an encounter with you. Collect substance; add value.
- Have the facts. No one will trust your judgment if you begin every sentence with, “I think…” or, “In my opinion…”. Before opening up about anything, have the data, research, etc. that will support your argument.
- Know the information. If I asked you what your name was, you could quickly and confidently give me a response. That is the way you speak when you know the information that you’re sharing. Technology fails and things don’t always go as planned so don’t rely on your notes or your presentation handouts. Study the information so that you can share your knowledge as if you were speaking live on national television.
- Don’t doubt yourself. More often than not, your listeners won’t know what you don’t know. The only way that they’ll be able to tell that you’re bombing is if you show them. Which leads me to my next point,
- Don’t lose your momentum. Typically, people start off with really high energy, but as soon as they start thinking too much about how many times they said “uh” or how they mispronounced that one word, you notice a very obvious shift. Slowly, their tone lowers and they stop making eye contact. You can almost see them shrinking right before your eyes! So if you start to notice that you’re screwing up, do your best to shake it off. Keep smiling and keep engaging your audience.
- Look the part. Once, I met a marketing consultant who looked the hottest of hot messes. Their job was to help entrepreneurs build up a strong brand and image, but they looked as if they’d just rolled out of bed. I won’t get into the details of her unkempt appearance, but her look completely ruined it for me. Stylists with bad hair, designers with tacky outfits, marketing consultants wearing too-small-tops and baring claw-like toenails (Oops!) are not cool. No, looks aren’t everything. But the way you look should be some sort of representation of why other’s should invest their time in you. And speaking of time…
- Don’t waste it for anyone. Time is the one thing that we can never get back so make sure that every person who has a chance to hear the sound of your voice leaves better than they came.
When the webinar ended that day, all I left with was a list of things that she’d done wrong. Don’t be that girl. And if you can’t deliver, just sit quietly in the corner until you’re ready to get in the game 🙂