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27 Tips from 100 Workshop Participants

End of November I held 2 workshops in Brühl, Germany called «Speak up – use the full potential of your voice». They were part of an internal event of a large international company for 2 groups of 50 female engineers and managers. In one of my exercises they had to discuss in small groups tips they had gotten and that had worked for them. Afterwards they shared them with the whole group and I wrote them on a flip chart. It was amazing to learn from their positive experiences and I am very grateful to have gotten their insights.

As these tips are valuable to everyone, I decided to share them here with you. I have grouped them together by topic and added some information to make the points more understandable without their context:

  • preparation is key
  • practice in front of the mirror
  • rehearse with friends
  • turn on the radio when you rehearse (so you get used to background noise while presenting)
  • prepare presentation aloud in front of someone else
  • anticipate possible questions
Dealing with nerves before a presentation:
  • positive conditioning “I am the expert”
  • look at the bright side
  • spread out your body – take position of dominance
  • go up the stairs before the presentation (move)
  • be at the location and make yourself familiar with the room
  • get a presentation assistant (a colleague or friend who helps you with the laptop, beamer, handouts etc.)
Dealing with nerves during the presentation:
  • smile – people will smile back and that will give you confidence
  • pick 5 people in the room, that you keep eye contact with (if you have a difficult time looking people in the eye during a presentation)
  • use icebreakers
  • speak“loud & slow”- adapt to your audience
  • have 1 person of trust in the audience who smiles at you and gives you positive energy (you can also be that person for somebody else)
Handling difficult situations:
  • if somebody asks an uncomfortable question or makes a negative comment- ask that person: ”Could you explain what you mean exactly?”
  • if you don't know the answer to something, admit it and give the question to the audience (eg: “Does anybody have an answer to this question?) - it's ok not to have all the answers
  • take a step back from a heated discussion – use the power of pause
  • imagine an intimidating person wearing underwear
  • admit mistake
General improvement:
  • get filmed during public speaking training
  • videotape yourself
  • record your voice
  • do a theater workshop (or take acting classes)
  • practice something you're confident in
It was great to get all these tips that worked for the participants, and it showed that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to public speaking. There were 100 people and we got roughly 30 tips. And if I had done the exercise individually, we would have probably gotten 100 different ones. What works and what doesn't is very personal, so don't get frustrated if something doesn't work on you. I would encourage you to try out different strategies and then see which one helps you personally.

If you would like to work with me on finding strategies to feel more at ease in public speaking situations – send an e-mail to info@thevoicecoach.be. I offer one-on-one coaching sessions per Skype or in person (if you live in the Brussels area).

Sonja Nannan




© Sonja Nannan, www.thevoicecoach.be, info@thevoicecoach.be
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