Presentation Tips to Conquer Speaking Fears

in Audience

Giving a presentation or speech to a large group can be a nerve-wracking experience for many presenters. One tip to help calm the presentation jitters comes from an unlikely source: your audience. You can use your audience to help you feel more at ease by following the rule of friendly faces.

What is the the rule of friendly faces and how does it work?

Quite simply, you scan the audience for faces of people you like. People who can make you feel comfortable. And throughout your talk or presentation, you keep coming back and looking at them for encouragement. They are a support network that can give you a mental lift the entire time you are speaking.

Here is how it works. When you first scan the crowd, look for someone in the front few rows to be your first friendly face. Maybe it is someone who reminds you of a friend or relative. Your friendly face might be an individual who has a hairstyle or a tie you really like. Maybe they have expressive eyes or smiled at you. Maybe it is someone you know or a person you spoke to for a few moments before you came on stage. This is your first friendly face. Think of them as home base.

Now scan the room for other friendly faces. This time, segment the room into sections, like a baseball diamond. We already have home base, so now look to the middle left of the room. Can you find someone to relate to in this part of the audience? Now look to the middle right side of the room for your next comforting face, and finally find someone toward the center back of the room (the outfield). You can add a few more faces if you like. A half dozen or so friendly faces for a small audience is a good number.

As you start speaking, look directly at each friendly face and hold your gaze for a few seconds: long enough to speak a complete sentence. Talk as if you are having a conversation just with this one person. Now, be sure not to stare too long at them. A one or two minute stare will unnerve any audience member and turn your friendly face into an unfriendly one! When you have finished your thought, shift your gaze to your next friendly face, hold the eye contact a few seconds and move on.

If you ask a rhetorical question of the audience, maintain eye contact with one of your friendly faces, as if you were asking them the question directly. One of your friendly faces might give you a nod, or a smile, or friendly eye contact as you speak. This is your friendliest face, and the one you should look to when you really need support. He or she is like your best friend.

Use friendly faces to create a series of comfort zones in the audience. It is a great way to humanize the crowd. This can help create a much better rapport between you and your listeners. Most importantly, it can help you feel more comfortable and in control on stage.

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Loraine Antrim has 1 articles online

Loraine Antrim is co-founding partner of Core Ideas Communication, a PR and marketing communications firm serving corporate clients around the globe. We specialize in strategy, message and content development, media/analyst training and leadership development. Find us on the web at Loraine's blog on executive presence can be found at:

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Presentation Tips to Conquer Speaking Fears

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This article was published on 2010/05/20