“So as...um...you can see, uhhh…this slide shows us that….” As the sweat rains down your face, you nervously freeze up like a statue just standing in one spot speaking in a monotone voice. Before you began to present you had the feeling of butterflies in your stomach, your mouth became dry and your nerves were having the best of you, but now while you are in front of 100s of people all that went away and now you are at a point of just constantly questioning everything you are saying trying to seem as if you are keeping it together when at any point you are about to burst.
As a stand-up comedian I have performed on at least 200 shows and have performed alongside some of the best performers in our generation from Nate Bargatze (Netflix) to Hasan Minhaj (Time 100’s Most Influential People). I have been on shows with 1 person to shows with 1000 people and the one thing I have gained over my course of traveling from city to city performing is how to properly pubic speak.
Now granted I am not the best, but I am
Now, I will say there is no article on this planet that can make you good at public speaking, just like anything you need to do it and constantly work on it. Think of public speaking like a sales call, at first you’re nervous, mumbling, trying to figure out what to say, spitting up on yourself and then over time you gain the understanding.
But this article will cover the 5 essential points you should keep in the back of your mind when presenting.
SIDE NOTE: I understand public speaking is a great fear of people, after my performance at the Siren Theatre a bunch of people came up to me and said “man I respect anyone who can get on that stage and speak.”
Which seems crazy to me because it’s the easiest thing to do. If you have a fear of public speaking because you are worried you will fail and people will judge you, well you’re right. You have a high percentage of failing and people will judge you, but who cares…. WHO CARES!
Let them judge at the end of the day their opinions don’t matter. They didn’t go on that stage, they don’t understand what it takes to be good.
Michael Jordan didn’t become Michael Jordan without major failures, Muhammad Ali didn’t become Muhammad Ali without constantly failing, over time the more you fail the more chances you give yourself for success. The only persons criticism you should care about is your own...and mine because I know what I’m doing.
5 Tips to Excel at Public Speaking
So without further ado…. The top 5 most essential points you need to practice to become an amazing...outstanding…phenomenal public speaker.
1. Don’t Rely on Slides
One of my biggest pet peeves is watching someone get on stage in front of a large audience and then just stand there basically repeating exactly what the slides are presenting. It’s as lazy as the Game Of Thrones ending, or the ending of the Sopranos, or General Hospital, or Dexter or Lost or basically any popular TV show in the past decade.
2. Be Entertaining
This is a very loaded topic so we will peel the layers of this onion or parfait whichever you prefer slowly.
I’ve noticed and this also happens in comedy where the performer comes to the stage and stands there, just stands there and tells his jokes in a monotone voice. Just as reference anytime you step on a stage to act, or tell jokes or even give a presentation about social selling you are giving a performance.
So to stand in one spot and tell your jokes in a very monotone fashion is the fastest way to turn viewers off. Your audience will not care for your material if it’s presented in a very boring manner. You can even be telling everyone about “How To Take Over The World” if you aren’t performing your material your audience may not leave, but they sure as hell are not paying attention.
You have one job anytime you step on stage, your job is to make sure your audience leaves with thinking “Wow, that was awesome!”
Try this exercise yourself, next time you attend a conference go watch a bunch of presentations. Make a note of what you liked and what you hated. You will notice very little about what you like deals with the presentation.
Humans are emotional so we will always tend towards those talks that have energy, are engaging and most importantly make me feel something. To do that you would need to speak passionately and provide an experience that isn’t just about the material.
Also as a final point…try to have something interesting to say. I understand this is a “no duh” moment. You will be surprised how little people have to say in certain presentations, all because they were asked to speak and they figured it would be a great way to get seen. Think about it carefully and ask yourself do I have anything of value to add to the intended audience if the answer is no just decline the offer. It’s better to not speak if you have nothing to say then to speak and prove you have nothing to say.
3. Tell a Story
Everyone loves a good story! The best public speakers in the world all have one thing in common they are all masters of telling stories.
A lot of times we get lost in trying to convey a message with data and facts, when all we really need is a good story to backup what we are talking about. Also, don’t try to sell in your presentation. It’s hacky and no one likes it! Try to make your presentation not about you and your goals, make it for your audience and helping them achieve theirs.
Telling stories is not just engaging for the audience, but as the performer it helps you relax. We are all predisposed to listening to a great story and telling a great story. Think about it when you are with your friends all you do is share stories with one another.
“So the funniest thing happened...this guy at my work his name is Sree, I think you guys met him before. He’s like my height very eccentric has a handlebar mustache and a unibrow ...anyways you will never guess what happened…”
When you watch TV no matter what you are watching, CNN, FOX, Comedy Central, commercials all they are doing is telling/selling you a story. So when it comes to your presentation why not write it as a story create a narrative, this will help you create a stronger presentation which would be far easier to remember and recite then bullet points.
4. Understand your Audience
This is very important, everything comes down to this. Understanding your audience is something that you will learn overtime.
One thing you need to understand is that your audiences will vary from performance to performance. I was once performing at a club in Greenwich Village, I did 4 shows at that venue. Each of those shows had a completely different audience, so never assume you understand what your crowd wants because your audience attending may not necessarily be the same.
So what you want to do is take the time to learn about your audience from gig to gig, a great way to do this is to integrate with the attendees before your presentation this way you have a general feeling about your audience. You can gain a sense of what they like, issues they are facing, trends, etc.
Also, this is good because now your audience will feel more connected to you before you even get on that stage which is always a plus.
While you are giving your presentation take notice of your crowd and how they are reacting to your material. Being in the moment is very important, it allows you to readjust quickly so you can mold your presentation to your crowd. With the same stories and messages, just told in a more personalized way.
Finally, make sure you have you audience best interest at heart, you need to understand they are here to see you which you should never ever take for granted. Don’t talk down to them, don’t look sloppy, don’t act superior to them, don’t do anything that can cause them to alienate themselves to you.
5. Give Them the Feels
Finally, this is my favorite rule. You want to try to have your audience feel something, what this means is set an emotion you want your audience members walking away with and aim for that. That is how you get remembered.
When you give a presentation what is just monotone, standing in one spot and is just facts and figures all your audience wants to do is find the nearest exit.
Which is why you need to passionately share your presentation, the more passionate you are the more passionate your audience will be. There is a saying that your audience will reflect your energy.
If you step on stage nervously, they will feel nervous. If you are stale and boring they will be bored, if you hyped they will be hyped. Remember whatever energy you bring they will reflect that same energy.