Have you ever been forced to listen to a speaker who made you work to stay awake? Some speakers hold your attention by making you feel like the most important person in the audience. Others look like they couldn't care less whether you were there or not and made you feel they wished they were anyplace else but here.
Many people feel that speaking in public is like walking barefoot on hot coals. You can see their discomfort. They can't stand still. They constantly shift their balance from one foot to the other, like marching in place.
For others, standing in front of an audience is like facing a firing squad. They plant themselves on a spot and freeze, afraid to move an inch in any direction or they might get shot. Or they hide behind the lectern, afraid to move out from behind its protective shield to get close to their listeners.
Then there are the ones who can't figure out where to put their hands. They lean on the podium, fiddle with their glasses, juggle their slide pointer, run their hands through their hair, hitch up their slacks, scratch an itch, cough, and blink. Bottom line, they distract you from hearing what they're saying because you're hypnotized by all the nervous movements they've brought along with their speech.
How you use your body and your hands is a major element of being a speaker who's easy to listen to. The audience will focus on what you're saying if you stand before them looking confident, sure of yourself and happy to be there for the next 20-40 minutes. Here is a basic technique that'll make you look and feel cool and competent, no matter what's going on inside.
Before you start to speak, take three deep breaths and look the audience in the eye. Move your head from left to right and back again, taking in everyone seated before you. Smile. Choose three people to speak directly to, one on the left, center and right. These are your guideposts to make sure you'll always make eye contact with the whole audience.
If you're behind a lectern, settle your notes comfortably before you start. If you're using a slide clicker, hold it gently, don't squeeze it to death. Remember not to lean on the lectern. You can use one hand to gesture while the other rests on it gently if you like. Keep smiling.
When you're rehearsing your speech ahead of time, find a few appropriate moments to move away from the lectern and speak directly to the audience. Get as close to them as you comfortably can. Keep your eyes on them as you make your key point, bending your elbows gently as you gesture to emphasize your key phrases. When you've finished discussing this point, walk back toward the lectern and repeat the process a few minutes later. Remember to keep glancing at your three chosen people on the left, center and right.
Moving gently and slowly this way will make it easier for the audience to both see and hear you. Bending your elbows gives the impression that you're relaxed and comfortable in your skin. Standing in one spot while you're making your key points helps you make direct eye contact with the audience and let your passion for your subject shine through.
Focus on the audience members who are really listening. Don't worry about the ones who aren't. As long as you continue to look at your three chosen listeners, the entire audience will hear and see you. You'll seem comfortable, in control and glad to be talking to them. Your body will move gracefully, your gestures will be natural, and the audience will be focusing on how strong and confident you appear.
You'll never have to worry about where to stand or how to move about the stage because you'll know exactly what to do at every moment. You can focus on the gift you're giving the audience. The more you concentrate on them, the less you'll think about yourself. When you forget to think about yourself, you automatically become the unique and sexy speaker they came to hear!