At Target, our mission is to help our clients communicate brilliantly. It’s a clear purpose that embraces many varied activities. Sometimes what starts as a punchy press release can turn into a speaking opportunity and a chance to share knowledge and expertise first hand. Whilst it’s a great way to raise profile, quite a common fear can put a dampener on the moment; the fear of public speaking.
Our Director, Sam Kandiyali and Chief Executive, Sarah Bryars, are often invited to speak on the topic of communications and PR. Even as professional communicators, they aren’t exempt from the nerves that accompany facing a room full of strangers and trying to meet expectations of being both interesting and informative, or worse still; funny! That said, they have developed their own tips for ‘facing the fear and doing it anyway’ when it comes to public speaking. So, in staying true to our mission, we’ve pooled together a few of Sam and Sarah’s pearls of wisdom to share.
“Preparation is key,” says Sam. “If like me you’re not adept at ‘winging it’ then preparation is crucial, not only to ensure better quality content but to also support your own delivery through confidence.
“Be yourself. A forced or contrived delivery that’s not honest to you can be awkward both for you and your audience. Be natural, speak your own words – prepare your own presentation (taking on someone else’s is always difficult).
“Smile. Ok, so you may be quaking in your boots on the inside but look happy and pleased to be there. Smiling also helps to relax you (as does a swift yawn before you start – obviously not in front of your audience).
“Engage. Take the pressure off yourself and involve your audience when you can – ask them a question, gauge feedback etc. As well as involving the audience this gives you time to re-group and breathe…”
“That’s actually my first tip,” says Sarah. “Breathe. Many of us feel nervous before public speaking; your adrenaline and heart rate rise. Take some long deep breaths. Have a glass of still water close by (no bubbles!) and just pause and take a sip if you need a moment.
“Own your subject. None of us knows everything, but being invited to speak is about sharing the knowledge that you hold, usually based on lots of professional personal experience. Push aside any feelings of ‘imposter syndrome’!
“Simple take-outs. You may be talking about a big or technically complex subject, but try to have some clear and simple points that you want your audience to take away. Begin and end your talk with these. It helps to keep you focused, as well as your audience.
“Wear it well. We all want to look our best when standing before an audience, but it’s important to feel comfortable too. Watch out for clothes that rise up or pinch a bit, particularly if you are going to be stretching to write on flipcharts or whiteboards.”
There we have it; eight simple ideas which could make your next public speaking opportunity both successful and enjoyable. These aren’t just useful for large audiences, they can be adapted to presenting to a group of any size.
The expertise of our team isn’t only in public speaking, we are experienced across a spectrum of PR and communications areas in a wide range of industries. Sharing our knowledge fulfils our own mission, but, more importantly, helps our clients achieve their goals…brilliantly.