I remember one of the first times I was in front of a large audience. I was 17-years-old and I was terrified. I was shy and introverted in high school, unless I was playing a sport – I was never shy there. My palms were sweaty, my heart was racing, but there was also a sense of comfort. I trusted my content because the content involved stories that made my speech flow. I was able to speak from my heart, connect with the audience, which then allowed me to let go and trust the rest of the speech to unfold.
I’ve always practiced extremely hard for the speeches I give – I rehearse and rehearse. Even if I rehearse for months, I still always feel nervous (sweaty palms and all) before getting on stage because I always share a part of myself on stage, which is always scary. Once I open my mouth and share from my heart, then all of the nerves wash away.
After 20 years of speaking, I have seen time and time again (whether I am speaking or listening to someone else speak), and nothing opens up a speaker or an audience member more than storytelling. What presenters don’t realize is that personal stories don’t have to take up an entire speech. They can be short, but they must be impactful, relevant, and placed properly into a presentation.
Here are a few tips to make your next speech of presentation more notable:
Begin with a personal story to draw your audience in. While your accomplishments and certifications are of value, they do not need to be at the forefront. YOU need to be at the forefront – those things can come later. A personal story helps your audience understand why they should listen to you, and you want to grab their attention from the get-go.
Insert an “I believe” statement at some point in your speech. People want to know what make you tick and why you are who you are. This gives them a chance to be a part of your story and join you on it. Here are a few examples: I believe that storytelling changes the world. OR I believe in the best of people. There are so many routes you can take with this. Just make sure it comes from your core and that you truly believe it.
Lastly, find a way to add in any lessons you’ve learned over the years. If they pertain to a story you’ve told or if they have been lessons learned from your life. It doesn’t matter, we all like to hear how someone else has moved through this life so that we can take notes and use them for our own lives.
Remember, these tips can be used in any kind of speech or presentation (it could be a sales pitch or an hour-long keynote). I know it’s scary to get personal in front of people you may or may not know but you control how personal you want to get. Vulnerability elicits connection – and we all crave connection. You’ve got this!