Are you dreading that looming date on your calendar when you have to address a crowd via a presentation, speech or introduction of an esteemed colleague? Public speaking can be daunting, nerve-wracking and downright scary. My first major public speaking experience was trial–by-fire where I had to address a group of 100 Wall Street law firm partners in a ten minute presentation, with my boss sitting right beside me! As time went by and I addressed different groups of colleagues in different formats including training programs and cocktail party welcoming addresses, I slowly grew more comfortable up at the podium. Below are a few tips that helped me along the way:
• Prepare. Write down the major ideas you want to convey in a bullet point format. Don’t write down everything word-for-word, as you will be more tempted to read it verbatim and not make eye contact with your audience.
• Practice makes perfect. Go into an empty conference room and run through it five or six times. Make sure you are standing up! My jitters are always more manageable when I can address a group while sitting down, but if you will be standing, be sure to stand while you are practicing. Doing a run-through with your notes will help you get comfortable presenting the material by ad-libbing, since you don’t have a formal script written out.
• Execute with eye contact. Once you’ve practiced and are comfortable conveying the information off the cuff, you are ready! Bring your notes with you to soothe those jitters. As you are speaking, find a friend or colleague in the audience to be your go-to person for eye contact. Then move about the crowd, focusing on someone for three seconds then moving to someone else. This will help you from locking eyes with the empty wall at the back of the room, or scanning the room so quickly that you aren’t really focusing on anyone.
• Lastly, stand up straight, smile and breathe. You’ve got this!
Written by: Courtney Mebane
Courtney has nearly ten years of recruiting experience, most of which has been in the legal field. Prior to joining Godshall in 2014, she was involved in recruiting attorneys for the Charlotte office of a Wall Street law firm. In addition to recruiting, she also launched and managed the firm’s alumni communications program. Courtney holds a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing from Southern Methodist University and loves spending time at home with her family and rescued beagle mix.