Being asked to give a keynote speech at a business conference is a great honor that comes with a great responsibility due to the fact the person giving it will set the tone for the rest of the experience. While being a guest speaker comes with its fair shares of responsibilities as well, delivering the keynote address can be quite stressful if you are not well-prepared.
Effectively delivering a speech in public can be one of the most nerve wracking experiences for any individual, especially if they have never done it before. Developing confidence for speaking in public will come with time, but in in the mean while, here are some tips that could help you accurately capture your audience’s attention as well as help shed some of that stage fright.
Planning Your Keynote Speech
Whether you’re presenting at an intimate business seminar or kicking off a major business conference, having an idea of what you want to say beforehand will ease the pre-speech jitters. If you don’t plan to bring up a few note cards to reference every now and then, rehearse everything you’d like to say. It’s your own speech, so your memorization does not need to be precise. As long as you convey the general ideas of your speech without rambling, your audience won’t lose interest.
The most important factor to remember is to not try and memorize your entire speech as you will sound very rehearsed and unnatural. Make sure to have bullet points and a few slides that will keep you on your path so that if you forget, then they can act as good reminders.
Loosen up! If you’re nervous, your audience will be nervous for you. Remember, you know your material better than anyone else in that audience, so they will probably not recognize a mistake if you happen to falter over a line or two. Consider your speech as a typical conversation with a close friend. When you talk to a friend, you think on your feet all the time, so this is no different except for the number of people are you are speaking to.
The more passionate you are about your subject, the more confident you will be because the audience should feel like you are speaking to them directly about your topic.
Body language of a Keynote Speaker
An audience is more inclined to listen to you if you show enthusiasm in your speech. Enthusiasm is often shown by your body language, so don’t be afraid to speak with your hands or even walk around on the stage. Look at your entire audience and scope all of your viewers. It may be unsettling to see how many people you are speaking to, but if you make eye contact with each of them, they’ll want to listen to you.
Remember that as the keynote speaker, you are setting the tone for the entire event. Therefore your confidence is key for the rest of the event to go well.
If you don’t have a microphone, projection is the key to your speech. However, for bigger venues, a microphone will probably be provided and you can use this to your advantage. If this is the case, don’t bother shouting but don’t whisper too much either. If you speak in a calm tone that isn’t too loud or too quiet, your audience will want to listen carefully as to not miss a detail. By doing this, you’ve already gotten their interest in what you’re saying. Now, you just have to sell your material to them.
Speed of your speech
Nervousness is usually characterized by what you do with your body and also what you do with your voice. Many beginners in public speaking tend to speed up their speech due to nervousness and a shortening of breath. Just take a deep breath if you need to, and if necessary, make a light and humorous acknowledgment of your nervousness. When you can admit that you’re nervous, it makes all of your senses more aware and you won’t lose focus of what you’re saying.
Remember that being a keynote speaker is a very serious role and should not be taken lightly. Make sure you take the time to prepare and rehearse so that you can deliver your message with confidence.
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