What could be more legitimate than to feel a certain apprehension or undeniable jitter when taking the floor before your colleagues? However, if this exercise were to turn into a fiasco, it would be regrettable for the speaker and detrimental for his audience. So, take inspiration from these few tips in terms of preparation and behaviour so that your speech is given smoothly and appreciated by all.
Be professional with your preparation
You have just learned that you will have to take the place of your manager, who has been detained abroad, at the next staff meeting. A disaster – leading the meeting will be your responsibility! Don’t see it all as a blockage and start with the preparation phase, because improvisation would not really be viewed well… Prepare for the meeting by thinking about the message, the objective and the intention that you want to pass on, always having your audience in mind. Be sure to write out your presentation in full – this would be so boring! – however, prepare your media: cards for you (introduction, plan, anecdotes, conclusion) and a PowerPoint presentation for the audience (cheery slides, catchy titles and a few keywords). The preparation phase does not stop there. Think about the equipment (computer, video projector…) and your personal preparation – appropriate outfit, a little visualization or self-motivation to arrive calm.
Demonstrate that you have confidence in yourself
How do you do it so that your visualizatoin – in which you see yourself facilitating with dynamism and relaxed for this meeting – is achieved? It is important to be at ease and fill the space: stand straight, have your hands open in front of you, don’t look at the ceiling or outside, but rather at your audience and your whole audience (the left side is often forgotten) and put on a sincere smile (it will make you appear friendly and relaxed). What about the jitters in all this? It is akin to a source of energy which will become useful if well managed, especially by breathing. Remember to inhale with your chest and fully exhale by releasing the abdominal pressure. Once you have mastered breathing, you can work on your vocal behaviour, which is essential to capture your audience: distinct articulation with emphasis on consonants to consolidate the impact, reasonable flow rate, varied tone and repeated silences to mark a pause and occupy the space.
Staying in contact with your audience
You are now well prepared and aware of the importance of posture and gestures. But is it a winner for all that? Indeed, there is still a final element – and not the least – your audience. Ten to fifteen persons who will watch you, listen to you, interrupt you, question you… Take the lead in knowing how to look, approach, interest your audience. First of all, consider welcoming each participant with a word and a smile. Once everyone in this little world is settled in, tell them that the show is going to be given by you. No rush, you are in control of the time, so face your group and begin with a silence: the moment is given. Then, always remember to look across your audience to create a connection and build on it. Don’t hesitate to walk around, to approach participants to create a dynamic and interact with them. If you manage to reach your audience, why not try a little humour or self-deprecation, that will need to be handled, however, tactfully and sparingly. This could bring out smiles, laughter or even applause.