How to be comfortable speaking in front of a large audience?
Speaking in public is not improvised! Being comfortable speaking in front of a potential client is one thing, capturing the attention of an audience is another. Speech preparation, gestures, eye contact, interaction with the audience, choice of vocabulary, voice intonation, thought-provoking silences are all parameters that determine the success of an intervention. Focus on some useful tips that will help you feel more comfortable speaking and improve your speaking skills.
Prepare your intervention and master your subject matter
If writing the speech is very important, practicing how to vote on it is fundamental. Do a few rehearsals, alone or in front of a familiar audience, in order to learn how to detach yourself from the text. These practices will also give you a precise idea of your speaking time. Your notes will be a support point, but you should not get stuck in them. Do thorough research so that you have a perfect knowledge of your subject and don't run out of arguments if you are asked questions. Try to anticipate them by asking yourself beforehand: who am I going to talk to? What is the profile of the audience? What is its level of expertise and what are its expectations?
The beginning, a key moment
Pay particular attention to the beginning of your procedure. Face the audience, look them in the eyes to get their attention and invite them to follow you. Select your first words carefully, smile and choose a dynamic tone. Announce the objectives of the meeting or seminar and the procedures you will be using.
Connect with your audience
After breaking the ice, maintain regular eye contact with your audience. Pay attention to your body language. Avoid sitting with your arms folded or behind your back, as you will create an unknowing distance between you and your audience. Empathize and reach out to your audience with appropriate language. Your notes and your presentation are only supports. You can browse through them from time to time, but under no circumstances should you read them. When someone speaks to you, you like to be looked in the eye, and so does your audience.
Give the "A" with your voice
While it is important to speak loudly enough for the whole assembly to hear you, it is not enough to be audible. Articulate, and take time to breathe between sentences. Intonation is a very effective weapon when used properly. Emphasize the key words in your speech that illustrate your ideas. Don't hesitate to mark a few silences to observe the reactions and give relief to the words that follow.
Check the operating condition of the equipment
Equipment that doesn't work can be a very destabilizing factor for a speaker. Take the time to test all your equipment (microphone and video projector) before the first participants arrive. These checks will familiarize you with your environment and put your mind at ease.