Use visualization and positive imagery …
Do breathing exercises …
Tell a joke …
Picture your audience in their underwear …

Should you try these techniques? Will they put you at ease? Most important, will they help you engage your audience?
There’s a lot of multi-tasking required of a speaker while delivering a presentation:

  • opening properly
  • getting the amplification of the microphone or natural projection of the voice just right
  • advancing slides or juggling A/V equipment
  • making eye contact and employing good body language
  • managing time, and
  • remembering the flow of the presentation material

Honestly? The last thing a speaker needs is distracting gimmicks on top of the multi-tasking. I prefer the basics: simply focus on connecting with the audience.
In fact, the SmartMouth approach is based first and foremost on the concept of audience-centricity. Or, as I like to say, “It’s not all about you, it’s about them!” Getting back to basics in presentation training means reminding speakers to focus squarely on their audiences from preparation all the way through to the end of delivery.
What does this mean in practical terms? Well, here’s a short checklist to help you understand what I mean:

  • When preparing a speech or presentation, think about what interest the audience might have in your topic and what aspect or angle would be most beneficial to them – rather than what interests you.
  • Go to the front of the room worrying about giving your audience a good experience – rather than worrying about how you look or whether you sound smart. (You do look good, you made sure of that already! And you are smart, that’s why you’re at the front of the room!)
  • Open by acknowledging your audience – offering a compliment, recognizing good work, identifying a common bond – before you introduce yourself or share anything about your background.
  • Look at them as if you were trying to draw them in and make new friends. Even move toward them if you can slip away from the podium. Make the people in front of you a more important focus – than yourself and your material.
  • Remember to smile, be present, use people’s names if you can, and be yourself. People really like all of those things. It puts them at ease and engages them. And when they’re at ease and engaged, you will be too!
Beth Levine