Keynote Speeches Will Showcase Your Calm and Confidence
Keynote speeches in front of large audiences: that is the scariest thing for most people in the workplace. It may never happen to you or it may happen once every 5 years. Maybe once a year your office may have a big annual convention for everyone in the industry. But the point is that you are up on a stage and you may have hundreds of thousands of people looking at you. And for most people, this prospect is scary. So you get nerves coming in even if you normally are a confident speaker.
The problem with your nerves is that you become tempted to change yourself to calm them down. You stop doing things that you do in your everyday speech, read bullet points off a slide, or use a teleprompter. For the most part, all of these are terrible ideas. You need to still practice the fundamentals and have a basic cheat sheet with your notes at which you can glance to facilitate your speech.
People do not believe me when I tell them this but it is actually easier to speak in front of a very large audience than it is to speak in front of a small audience and form a good impression on them because at some point, they are looking at you up on that stage and they will already be impressed at your will to speak in front of a large audience. You will get credit for being up there.
Here’s the other thing: if you simply walk around the stage when you speak, people will be extremely surprised at how confident you were to be able to just walk around and talk to the audience as if you were having a normal conversation. Even a 3 year old child can walk and talk. I do not know of any professional activity where people will be impressed by you doing something that even a 3 year old could do. That is because walking and talking in front of a large room of people seems extremely scary but isn’t when you practice it.
Another thing that helps a lot, especially if you are giving a keynote speech, is practicing on video. Practicing in the actual room where you are supposed to be giving the speech also greatly helps. If you practice in your own office or home, you will undoubtedly feel comfortable. But once you reach the convention centre and you see the gigantic, cavernous space where you’re supposed to deliver your speech, you may begin to feel intimidated.
Getting there early, walking around the edges of the room, and getting familiar with the space by observing and touching it also helps to greatly relax you and make the environment more familiar and comfortable, something which ultimately helps you to move naturally and sound confident.
Here Is Exactly What to Do With Your Hands
I want to go more in depth about what you should do with your hands while you’re giving a speech because it is a huge and dominant part of your body language and there is a lot of information out there about hands as well as a lot of misinformation which I want to cut through and make life easier for you.
Here’s a little secret I will share with you: when I am doing in person workshops or public speaking seminars, I typically tape the attendants speaking in the beginning of the morning several times. They normally get nervous, tense up, and freeze themselves. Then, without turning the camera off, I pretend as if I have turned it off and ask them to tell me how that attempt felt. Normally, they will say that they did not like it at all and that they do not like to be filmed on camera. I then show them the recording of their speech and ask them for their opinion. They will often comment on how they look like they are tensed and nervous. I then tell them that I am going to show them someone who is much better than them, someone who seems much more comfortable speaking. They think that I will show them a video of a famous and well known speaker, but I just show them a video of themselves where their hands are moving and they are much more expressive as they are having a normal conversation with me.
Here is the one secret that most body language experts will not tell you: you do not need to learn how to do new things with your hands. What you need to do is simply move your hands the way you do when you are relaxed and comfortable talking to a friend about your favourite sporting event or music. Most people move their hands naturally.
If you tense up your hands, the tension goes up to your vocal cords, and you begin to sound monotonous and your face and the rest of your body also stops moving. It basically sets off a negative chain reaction. So my recommendation for you is that you should want to move your hands. It is theoretically possible that you may excessively move your hands and make them distracting but in real life, that does not really happen. So try to move your hands because the second you do that, you will start to look more comfortable to your audience because you will be doing the things that people who are comfortable in any situation do when they speak.
This can also be a problem when you are standing where you may feel the need to hold your hands in front of you or behind you as if you have been handcuffed. You can never go wrong with moving your hands when you are speaking regardless of whether you are standing or sitting.
If you go for natural movement then not only will you look comfortable and confident, but you will feel confident as well and your voice will have a natural and comfortable tone to it as well. If you want to have good body language, you should never look like you are trying to force something and moving your hands naturally helps a lot in this matter.