Itâ€™s fifteen minutes before your presentation and youâ€™re a little nervous.Â Youâ€™ve checked the projector and itâ€™s working just fine.Â Your handouts are in order.Â The microphone has been tested and your voice comes across strong and clear. Â You even have a water glass ready in case you get a little parched during your presentation.
What do you do now?Â We recommend going out into the audience and chatting with your listeners.Â Itâ€™s a great way to deal with pre-speech jitters because it helps turn the audience from strangers into friends.
Pre-speech schmoozing also gives the speaker greater insight into the audienceâ€™s interests.Â If an audience member asks about something related to your speech, you can be sure to address that issue during your remarks.Â And if one person is interested in a particular topic, chances are that others are also interested.
Recently I was about toÂ give a speech to a large group and I was a little jittery.Â Once everything was set up, I walked out into the audience and began introducing myself. â€œHi. Iâ€™m going to be your speaker today.â€Â I tried to meet as many people as possible, having little â€œcocktail partyâ€ conversations.Â It helped calm the nerves.
Questions to ask include:
- â€œWhere are you from?â€
- â€œWhere do you work?â€
- â€œWhat in particular interests you about todayâ€™s topic?â€
Donâ€™t spend more than a minute or two with any one audience member.Â Just end the conversation by saying, â€œNice meeting you.Â I hope you enjoy the presentation.â€Â And then move on to the next person.Â Ideally, you would speak to everyone in the audience before your speech.
Next time you have to give a speech, donâ€™t stand at the lectern waiting to begin. Get out in the audience and schmooze.