- Be aware of your body language and what you are portraying to the group. As scary as it might seem being videoed while presenting or facilitating gives you a really good concept of what people see from the other side.
- Move around the room with purpose.
- Moving towards people who talk too much can help to quieten them down.
- Make eye contact with your participants. Connect with each of them many times
- Keep your body still – don’t sway, step back and forth or overuse body movements.
- Use gestures to make a point, once again with purpose and intent. If you are the type of person who talks with their hands be aware of this and manage your gestures.
- Be aware of what you do with your hands, putting them on your hips can be confronting to people. I often hold a marker pen as this makes me aware of my hands and stops my tendency for putting them on my hips or over gesturing.
- Let your passion about the topic or activity show. Passion provides energy for the group and is contagious.
- Breathe … while this might sound so simple when we are under pressure we often “shallow breathe” which makes us more up tight. Do some deep breathing exercises before you start and if you feel yourself getting up tight take a moment and breathe deeply. I remember clearly one of my first public speaking occasions where I started to speak and suddenly had a terrible headache … I had stopped breathing. I rushed through the experience and left feeling very unhappy with my presentation, if only I had remembered to breathe!
- There are lots of great books about presenting to groups which provide useful tools for managing nerves.
The most powerful public speaking training I ever experienced was with a wonderful woman called Tessa Bremner. Tessa has trained politicians to make speeches in parliament and comes from a background in Theatre Tessa facilitated training for several groups of rural women I was working with, she made the training fun and interactive. It was amazing to see the growth and development of skills of the women in only one day. Other than breathing and warming up before presenting, the tip I always carry with me from Tessa is to create a circle of light. Imagine a circle of light on the floor where you will stand, step into that circle and stand tall, imagine the circle is safe and provides confidence to you in your role. While working in the circle nothing else matters except the role you are in at the time.
Connect with your participants, spend time establishing the group at the beginning of the session to help you establish connection. I like to feel like I am member of the group who is guiding them through a process.
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