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Speaking to a group? 5 questions to empower yourself and be less nervous

White office desk table with blank notebook, computer keyboard and other office supplies

Whenever we’re speaking — whether it’s to our internal teams, to clients, during an online webinar, at an event, or in the media — developing a solid mindset is critical to presenting powerfully and memorably.

But that needs to happen before we even step into the room, be it virtual or in real life. And it’s on you to make it happen.

Often, I see speakers act passively as soon as someone invites them to speak. Maybe they’re struggling with imposter syndrome. Perhaps they don’t want to be perceived as a diva or high maintenance. Or they don’t know they have the right to ask questions to prepare them for the event.

If you’re about to speak and do not have all the information about your audience or the event itself – you’ll be more nervous, and the audience won’t get the total value of what you can give. That’s a waste of your time.

Why mindset is essential to being prepared to speak

We cannot create a presentation in a vacuum. It doesn’t make a powerful lesson for the audience – and it makes us more nervous. You can command the room before the room even exists. And how do you do that? By asking these 5 questions of the session organizers.

Who is the audience? Mainly female? Male? Doctors? Customers? Vendors? What is their level of understanding? Should you explain certain concepts? The audience information helps you reach them more effectively. You’ll be more memorable and more likely to accomplish the mission of your talk if you speak to your specific audience.

How many have confirmed so far? This is particularly helpful when presenting a live webinar. Are you talking to dozens? Hundreds? Will this be recorded and sent around to thousands? This is important to know so you can avoid sounding dated when the majority of the audience is listening. For example: you may want to avoid saying, “Good morning!” if the majority of the audience watches later.

Will we have a handheld or lav mic? If you’re speaking on stage, you’ll want to practice your body language. Knowing if you’ll be holding a mic or if one will be attached to you is important. It’s also helpful when making wardrobe decisions. There are outfits that make it more difficult to attach a lavalier mic. If you get there and have to make a last-minute clothing change, that can mess with your mindset minutes before jumping on stage. Ask the question before you get there.

Are we sitting? What kind of chairs do you expect on stage? Barstools can be a speaker’s worst enemy. How will you sit? Will you stand and lean? If you’re wearing a dress or skirt that’s shorter… a barstool is going to make you feel pretty uncomfortable. Know before you go so you can alter your wardrobe. You can even ask to change to regular chairs. You’re not a diva. You’re empowered to make you and your fellow presenters more effective.

Is there makeup? Or are we doing our own? You’ll need at least a little powder so you’re not shiny on stage. I was on a big stage a few days ago training executives before their annual meeting. Some had makeup, others didn’t. You could tell. Those without powder looked nervous. Know beforehand if you’ll need to take care of this yourself.

Why mindset is only part of the solution

If you have all the information before speaking, you will create a more valuable presentation for the audience – because you’ll know who the audience is! Plus, you’ll feel much more comfortable about your content.

I hope this helps you become more empowered to ask the right questions, so you show up with more focus, clarity, and energy.

But that’s only half the battle when it comes to amplifying your thought leadership. We also need to talk about the specific tactics to keep your audience and make sure they remember your messages. I address that in my weekly newsletter focused exclusively on public speaking and media interview tips. To get the next issue in your inbox, subscribe here.

These are challenging times. Your team needs you to be a leader now. But, to be there for them, you must take care of yourself first. I’ll be back next week with more tips for strengthening your mindset so you can communicate with power no matter the situation.

P.S. Want more tips? Be sure to sign up for my LinkedIn newsletter where you’ll get exclusive tips on strengthening your mindset to become a better communicator. Click here to subscribe to Thought Leaders Amplified on LinkedIn.

P.P.S. I created a training for health care professionals who need to discover their message and story, deliver it clearly, succinctly, and confidently, and present in a way that intrigues, entertains and keeps the audience’s attention. Share it with your friends in health care. Check it out even if you’re not in health care. The tips and tricks are universal. Click here to learn more.

P.P.P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are three more ways I can help you build your brand, own your voice, and stand out:

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