Who’s ready to get in front of a group and speak publicly again?
Many leaders and employees aren’t. After all, some people aren’t used to being around others after a year in some degree of isolation.
For HR leaders and front-line managers, it was likely easier to sit – possibly in pajama bottoms and slippers! – behind a computer camera than it is to stand in front of the team.
Now it’s time to engage an audience again.
Fortunately, there’s help from Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.
And it’s not just for leaders who need to speak publicly again. These are “public speaking lessons for the Introverts, the Inexperienced, the Pathologically Shy, and the Rusty-in-Need-of-a-Refresh,” Handley says.
Here are nine tips for HR pros to use and pass along to other leaders:
Re-frame a weakness as a strength
Get sweaty palms? Heart race? Stumble over words? You probably think those happen because you’re terrified when speaking.
Look at it this way: You care so much about what you’ll say, you’re excited. Go with that!
Ask a colleague or trusted employee to sit in the back of the group and nod and smile as you speak, encouraging your momentum.
You might even give him or her a question or two to ask to open up a dialogue.
Pick and rely on a crew
Pick five or six people in different parts of the room who you’ll move your eyes to while you speak.
This will help you speak in turn to the entire room, not just the people in front – or your designee in the back.
Use notes, not dictation
If you need notes, by all means use them. They can help control nerves.
But, don’t write out your talk verbatim, which prevents you from interacting with the group and causes you to miss opportunities to give or get more relevant information.
Focus on the talk, not the visuals
Keep slides simple – or don’t use them at all, especially if all the information can be sent via email.
You want people to listen, not stare at a mediocre PowerPoint.
Practice the pause
Force yourself to pause a second or two between every few sentences.
It’ll help you avoid rushing through your points or talking past the most important information.
If you allow questions throughout your chat, you open a better dialogue and avoid a monologue.
Your notes will help you get back on track when there is a question, too.
Be prepared for questions
Two keys for better Q&A:
- Buy time and clarity when you don’t know the answer immediately by responding to a question with, “What do you mean by …?”
- Admit when you don’t know. Nothing can destroy a presentation and your credibility more than giving bad or false information. If you don’t have an answer for sure, say, “I don’t know, and I will get back to you on it.”
Make questions matter
After you answer a question, ask the person who posed it, “Did I answer that completely for you?”
It tells them you’re OK with clarifying and are interested in what they think, too.