Handshakes have been in the news a lot lately as President Trump meets with world leaders. In these interactions, there has been lots of talk about who was dominant, who was awkward, and who got it right.
Handshakes do make a difference. They set a tone for a conversation and how you do your handshake can say a lot about you. A handshake can make or break the first impression someone has of you. Because handshakes are a conscious exertion of body language and how we present ourselves, they are an important part of public speaking. And in today’s fiercely competitive business climate, how well you present yourself can make the difference in getting ahead or going home. So to succeed, it’s important that we do this basic business interaction correctly.
In the video clip below, Paul Barton shows how to do a handshake that exudes confidence and a willingness to partner with someone. Both of those qualities are crucial in most interpersonal and business settings. A proper handshake helps you send the messages you’re intending to send and it helps you to stand out in the minds of your customers, clients and business partners. So go on — shake it up!
Body language is crucial to effective public speaking. It communicates more than our words. Some experts say as much as 80% of what we communicate is done through our body language. So, it’s important that we are using our body language to communicate what we are intending to say.
When you are making a business presentation, is your body language sending signals of “command and control” or are you trying to “influence and include?” You will have more success at persuading audiences to your way of thinking if you adopt a strategy of influence and include.
In this video clip from our “Speak Up and Stand Out” workshop, Paul Barton presents some tips on using body language to help you be more a more inclusive public speaker and presenter.
By using your body language to say what we are intending to say, you can become a more powerful communicator.
Mark Twain’s humorous quote about public speaking is pretty close to the truth based on the hundreds of people I’ve taught and coached. I work with leaders who don’t want speaking to hold them back any longer. I help give them the confidence to speak up and the skills to stand out so that they can command the room in any situation. If you love learning new tips, tricks and techniques and are ready to go to the next level, contact me today.
Some people practice for an upcoming speech by reciting the speech over and over while pacing about a private room in private. They get the content down well using this method. But then they get up to do the speech and discover they have to use a handheld microphone with a long cable coming out of it. This can throw some speechmakers off their game. Some find themselves awkwardly bumping the microphone against their bodies making loud thumping sounds that annoy the audience. Others want to use notes and suddenly find themselves with paper in one hand and a microphone in the other. This makes gesturing extremely difficult.
If you’re going to make a wedding toast, a business presentation, or a public speech of any kind, find out ahead of time if you will be using a microphone. If so, practice with a microphone, or at least some object in your hand so that you get used to holding it while talking and gesturing. Arrive at your speech early and do a sound check. Get as familiar with the microphone as you can before your presentation begins.
The time you invest in practicing with a microphone will pay off in a big way once you are on stage.
What happens if you get nervous or slip up in the middle of your speech? In previous posts, we’ve presented tips to help calm nerves before you begin speaking, but what about while you are speaking.
Here are some tips to help deal with public speaking fear while speaking:
As you begin to speak, look for friendly faces in the audience first. Feed off their positive energy.
Remember: You mind affects your body language, but the opposite is true as well — your body language affects how you feel. Plant your feet and stand confidently. Hold your head up. You will begin to act more confidently.
Don’t apologize, don’t make excuses, and don’t say you’re nervous.
Be authentic; not perfect. Audiences are very forgiving of sincere speakers.
Laugh off mistakes, regain your footing and continue.
If you forget something, just move on. You’re probably the only one who knows you forgot.
Don’t forget to breathe, and do so from the diaphragm.
Be yourself and have fun!
By being your authentic self, your presentation will gain the most important element of a speech — credibility.
It’s natural to be a little nervous just before you begin to perform any sort of public speaking. Even if you’re not particularly scared to speak, adrenaline may increase in the excitement of the moment. We often times can control our upper bodies by focusing but the nervous energy then goes to our feet and causes us to sway, pace or move our feet around a lot.
Here are two techniques to use to deal with nervous energy:
Burn off nervous energy. Nervous energy is natural. Some speakers are able to convert this nervous energy into presentation energy. Another strategy is to burn off some of that energy. You could d0 jumping jacks but that might look a little weird. Instead, try this “stealth” method to burn off energy that I learned from my mentor, Pam Chambers: Grip the side on your chair with your dominant hand and pull as hard as you can from the elbow up for 30 seconds. If you pull from the elbow, and not the shoulder, no one can tell you’re doing it!
Breathe Deeply. Your body needs oxygen but often your body goes into shallow breathing when you are nervous. Breathe from your diaphragm. There’s science behind how this helps. But now, let’s take a psychological approach. Moments before you go up to speak, draw a deep breath. As you do so, imagine you are sucking up all the negative energy inside your body — all the self-doubts, the fears, the nervousness. Now, blow out your breath and imagine all the negative energy is leaving your body in the form of bubbles. Imagine those bubbles are popping as they come out and y0ur fears are disappearing into thin air. This exercise is only as good as you make it.
I have clients and former students who swear the chair grip is the greatest thing ever and they thank me months after learning it. Others love the imaginary bubbles. Some love both and others find no value in either one. The trick is to find what works for you. When you do, you will deliver a more relaxed and more confident speech or business presentation.
It was exciting and inspiring to see so many of my former public speaking students graduate this week from Brown Mackie College in Phoenix. Following the ceremony, I had the opportunity to congratulate and chat with them for a few moments about their experiences. Many told me that what they learned in my public speaking class was already paying off as they begin to do job interviews. Others said the skills they learned are helping them communicate better in the workplace. Some said the skills they learned were even helping them in their interpersonal relationships. All said they were thankful they took the course. It was a very rewarding experience hearing that what they learned was helping them as they prepare to tackle the real world.
I was so proud of my students for overcoming their fears and becoming better presenters. And I learned as much from them as they did from me. In addition to the normal fears of public speaking, some of them faced additional challenges including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, and speech impediments. I will remember all of them for their perseverance and their accomplishments. The student pictured with me above was among the most memorable. She was so determined to deliver her persuasive speech the day after her lung surgery that she did so from her hospital bed via Skype. That set the bar pretty high!
The graduation ceremony was bittersweet. Brown Mackie College is closing and this was the last commencement ceremony ever. But that did not dampen the spirits of the Class of 2017. Congratulations graduates! Best of luck and may all of your speeches be great ones!
In my 20-year career working at six major corporations, I witnessed many people who were passed over for promotions. Many found their ideas were not taken seriously. They just didn’t seem like “management material.” Most of them had the knowledge they needed to do the job. So why didn’t they advance in their careers? Answer: the fear of public speaking. They lacked the confidence to speak up and the communication skills to stand out, and it cost them.
Conversely, I’ve seen people who were very good talkers but didn’t necessarily have as much knowledge as others on their work teams. They often times were taken more seriously and got promotions they perhaps didn’t deserve. Ideally, those who advance in life should be good communicators and know what the heck they are talking about.
Don’t let fear paralyze your career. Before you can gain the confidence to speak and learn the skills to stand out in this highly competitive world, you have to first put fear in your rear view mirror.
You can begin to eliminate your fears of public speaking long before you step to the front of the room to deliver your business presentation or speech. You can take steps in the preparation phase that will reduce stress, anxiety and your fears of failure.
Preparing for Your Presentation
A speech or presentation begins as soon as you accept the assignment. That’s when you begin to do your audience analysis, content development and rehearsals.
Practice, practice, practice! There is no substitute. Practice aloud. Practice in front of a mirror. Practice in front of your friends or family. Record yourself. Have someone else read your speech to you.
Memorize your outline, not your speech. This will allow you to speak more authentically and appear to be more credible.
Believe at least one thing in your speech will be meaningful to at least one person in the audience. That’s not a high hurdle. But if you do not believe that with all your heart then you have two choices: rewrite your speech until you do believe it or stay home.
Make a packing list so you don’t forget handouts, visual aids, etc.
If you have presentation materials, scripts, or any technology, have a backup plan. Technology can and will fail.
Come prepared with a small bottle of room temperature water and throat drops. Keep them handy while you’re speaking. A coughing fit can ruin a presentation.
Remove coins, keys, etc. from your pockets. If you fidget with a ring or watch when you’re nervous, remove the distraction.
The more prepared you are, the less fearful you will be. We will look at additional steps to overcome public speaking fears future posts. So, don’t be afraid to check back frequently!