La Trobe 3-Minute-Thesis (3MT) champion Nicole Shackleton knows how capture an audience’s attention — and hold it. So, does confidence in front of an audience come naturally? No! Even the most seasoned public speaking professional will tell you it all comes down to preparation and practice.
But don’t take it from us — see for yourself if Nicole can persuade you that these five simple tips can work, in five minutes or less.
Let’s recap: here are Nicole’s five most powerful public speaking tips to help you crush your next class presentation or business engagement.
1. Know your audience
Tailor your message, your tone, and the language you’re using to resonate with the people in the room. If you do this well, they will be more likely to pay attention, and even do what you ask of them.
2. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Good preparation is the secret sauce to speaking with confidence. Structure your thoughts, write them down – and then perform! If you don’t practice what you have to say, there’s a chance you’ll hesitate and stumble (and a timid or rambling speaker will have trouble persuading anyone). Practice in front of friends, family, peers or someone you trust. Speaking in front of the mirror can also help you to get into a rhythm and memorise what you have to say.
‘It’s not what you’re saying but how you’re saying it.’
3. Own the space
This is a tricky one to get your head around. But it’s inherently about showing up for yourself, and showing the world that you belong. It’s not what you say, but how you say it, says Nicole. Once you’ve nailed the mental game, it also helps to dress the part, and practice to the point that you can throw the notes away. This will help with both delivery and confidence. And we can’t stress this enough: speak sloooooowly.
4. Be confident
Easy enough to say, but how do you do it? You have to trust that the audience is rooting for you. Remember, they’re all here to listen – everyone wants to hear what you have to say. If you’re nervous, that’s fine. Acknowledge it and focus on something external. Take a moment to breathe deeply to stimulate the vagus nerve, as this will help calm you down. Nicole also suggests distracting yourself before the event to help you maintain peace of mind or burn off some nervous energy.
Power move: Adopt a super hero stance.
5. Enjoy yourself
Focus on the positives: you’re here to talk about something that you’re invested in and tell that story to people you may not normally get the chance to address. It creates a huge adrenaline rush, and what follows is a great sense of satisfaction, says Nicole. But it’s not all about you.
If you’re enjoying yourself, your audience will too.
If you follow these tips, you won’t have to stress so much about your next presentation.
Feeling pumped about your next birthday speech or thesis defense? Consider a Postgraduate Degree at La Trobe.