How to speak to a large group for the first time

Abby’s nervous. She’s been asked to speak at her industry conference. She’s never spoken to a large group before.

Although her presentation is well prepared, Abby is feeling unsure about how well received it will be. She is suffering from pre-speech nerves. Here’s how we’d help Abby deal with this problem. You can use the same strategies to prepare for your presentations.

Rethink the jitters 

Abby needs to be aware of how she physically reacts to being nervous. Then she needs to reframe those physical symptoms. Does her heart feel like it’s going a million miles an hour? This could be interpreted as excitement rather than fear.  Is her breathing shallow? She can see this as an opportunity to breathe deeper and do some relaxation exercises.

Arrive early

It’s a great idea for Abby to get to the meeting venue early. This will give her plenty of time to prepare and settle into her space. She can get the equipment setup out of the way and background material ready to go. She can review where people will sit and the best position to stand while she’s speaking.

Abby shouldn’t focus only on her speech, however. She should also make time to greet people as they arrive. She needs to introduce herself to her audience and do some networking. Arriving early gives her a great opportunity to build rapport before standing up in front of everyone.

Build trust

Abby needs to build trust with her audience. If she doesn’t, she’ll lose credibility and people will switch off from her message. One way of building trust is to demonstrate you know your stuff. So Abby needs to tell stories and give examples in order to illustrate her in-depth experience with her subject.

Just be yourself…

Demonstrating her professional credibility is one thing. But Abby should also bring something of herself to her presentation. Anecdotes and war stories are good ways of showing personality. Humour is also effective for building rapport. Abby should share her experiences with her audiences, so they can see her as a real person.

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