Today I'm sharing a few tips on successful public speaking.
First of all, don't show up drunk.
I know it's tempting. After all, there's a reason we call booze liquid courage. But slurring and staggering or falling down just don't create a good impression on your audience. Unless you're in Vaudeville, in which case, drink up.
#2: Watch what you eat the day of your engagement and I don't mean stare at your food. Avoid major gas producers like chili cheese dogs, cabbage, onions, and garlic. The last thing you want to do when is let one rip during your big moment. Oh sure, it'll be memorable for all concerned, but not in a good way.
#3: On the heels of #2 is consume carbonated beverages with caution. While burping is not as socially unacceptable as farting, it's disruptive and will have your audience laughing at you instead of with you. Plain water is usually the best thing to wet your whistle while you're speaking.
#4: Take a pee before you speak or plan on wearing Depends. Pissing your pants is a big public speaking No-No and dashing out in the middle of your presentation to take a whiz is, too.
#5: Speak from your diaphragm and I'm not talking about the birth control method. That would be a pretty amazing trick all on its own, especially if you're a guy. Nope, take a deep breath all the way down to your belly and project your voice as if you're standing at one end of a football field and are trying to speak to someone at the other end. You'd be amazed at how many people get up to speak (without a microphone) and use their everyday voices. Remember, the back row wants to hear you, too, or they would have stayed home to watch "The Walking Dead."
#6: On the flip side of #5, if you're using a mike, don't project or you'll bowl everyone over from the volume.
#7: Mumbling, verbal fumbling, or rapid-fire speaking will guarantee either a mass departure or a massive tune-out as everyone grabs their personal electronic devices to Facebook or Tweet how lame your presentation is. Speak slowly, clearly and with confidence. Pretend you're talking to first graders.
#8: Project confidence. Your stomach might be churning, your palms (and other body parts) sweating, your saliva production either going into overdrive or completely drying up, and your bladder doing double duty, but you shouldn't let on that you're a white hot mess on the inside. Stand up straight, shoulders back. Look people in the eye (but don't stare them down.) Smile. Try not to giggle or laugh maniacally (unless you're speaking about world domination--then yuk it up.) Stride in as if your audience members are guests in your home. And for goodness sake, if you suffer from serious stage fright, see #1 or ask your doc about anti-anxiety meds.
#9: Notes are your friend, but don't marry them. I've seen speakers read from their handouts. Eek! This is an automatic tune-out for me. Notes are like guideposts that keep you on the path. You want to be looking ahead to where you're going, not down at every individual stone you're stepping on. If you're giving a reading, there's no need to memorize the passage, but do look up from time to time and connect with your audience and don't look down as you read. Hold or place your material where your voice can go out into the crowd (or mike) and not down into a podium or the ground.
#10: Yoda said it perfectly, "Do or do not. There is no try."
(Yes, I'm a Star Wars geek and proud of it. But the first set of movies. The later ones just left me with an insane urge to kill Jar-Jar Binks.)
Follow these ten tips for a successful public speaking session. And if all goes wrong anyway, you can always go back to #1 AFTER it's all over.