On February 9th, we kicked off Speak Up!, our workshop series on the topic of public speaking, with Genicca Whitney, founder of the Badass Lady Boss Collective. During the session, the dynamic entrepreneur and storyteller pinpointed common public speaking fears and provided strategies for young professionals to use to effectively speak to their audiences.
Be Prepared and Practice
Before giving a presentation, you should create an outline that includes your basic premise, topics, and structure based on the research you’ve conducted and the ideas you have formulated. Ensure that you have established a clear goal of what you want people to learn and how you want people to feel. Rehearse your presentation with a friend to receive their feedback and to become comfortable with communicating your words.
Speak to the Individuals in the Group
If you are nervous and overwhelmed by the prospect of speaking to a room full of people, change how you approach the scope of the room. Focus on speaking to each individual in the group as opposed to speaking to the group as a whole and make eye contact with every person (or if not eye contact, then look at their forehead). Use the full scope and power of your voice through experimenting with voice modulation, tonality, and speed.
Body Language Sets the Tone
The addition of body movements and facial expressions is an impactful presentation practice, as you appear more animated and engaging to your audience. Establish your confidence and authority with good posture and a solid stance by ensuring you are standing up tall with open arms. Use gestures that will express your points and captivate your audience’s attention, such as maintaining eye contact, incorporating hand motions, walking side-to-side on stage, and smiling.
Be Real and Relatable
When all eyes are on you, you can be subject to feeling self-conscious and concerned over how people are judging you. If you make a mistake or have a brain freeze as you speak, be honest, laugh about it, and move on. In reality, your audience empathizes with you, looks up to you for being brave enough to speak, and are grateful to you for imparting your knowledge. Genicca encourages speakers to “strive for connection instead of perfection” by humanizing their presentation and being genuine.
Speak from a Place of Service
As you speak to your audience, come from a place of service and education. You will be most effective by focusing on the value you are giving to others and articulating how you wish to be a source of resource or inspiration to them. Incorporate these ideas into your own elevator pitch, which should address the questions of what you do, who do you help, and how do you help.
“Confidence develops over time. To do things that you’ve never done before you need to be courageous.” - Genicca Whitney
Join us at our upcoming workshops in the Speak Up! event series to build up your public speaking skills. We look forward to meeting you!
Elizabeth Rosalyn The is the Communications Coordinator for YWiB Vancouver's events team. Currently, she is the content & social media specialist at Rise People, a digital HR software company that brings HR, payroll, and benefits together in an all-in-one people platform.
A lover of stories, she lives to explore and write about the arts, music, entertainment, travel, and culture, all while sipping on a cup of earl grey tea. She is one of the founding directors for the pop culture & lifestyle magazine, The Hudsucker. Visit her personal blog at Elizabeth Rosalyn.