Every salesperson is tasked with presenting their solutions to potential buyers. Sometimes this involves just one buyer, but in the B2B and government sales world this usually means multiple people such as a group of executives or a buying committee. This can cause problems for salespeople uncomfortable with public speaking.
Some salespeople become overwhelmingly anxious when giving a speech to multiple people even if they are great when working one-on-one with buyers. If you fall in this category, you know that even when you tell yourself that your fears are completely irrational, you still experience sweaty palms and an uncomfortable nervous energy when thinking about your presentation.
However, I have some help for you. I joined the ranks of corporate keynote speakers some time ago and have picked up many tips while networking with other speakers.
All of them agree: the key to eliminate anxiety about delivering a speech or sales presentation lies in proper preparation beforehand. Even if professional speakers seem to come up with brilliant monologues as soon as someone hands them a microphone, in truth all of them prepare intensely — as if they were actors learning their lines for the stage. They do not just wing it!
That being said, how you prepare is very important. Here are tips from some of the best voices in the corporate keynote speakers world.
The way you think about a situation can change its outcome. It’s not magic or voodoo, it’s logic. If you have a bad mindset going into a speaking engagement, this will reveal itself in a tense facial expression, stiff body posture, and less friendly and open speech. If you think positively and arrive to a presentation with confidence, that will also show in the way you comport yourself. And guess which mindset is proven to lead to more success in business? If you guessed the latter, you are correct.
Fortunately, you can be proactive in having a better mindset for your presentation. One of the tips given by Toastmasters International is to visualize yourself delivering your speech, including you speaking in a loud, clear and confident voice, and the audience clapping for you. You can go further and imagine the different faces smiling, nodding in agreement, etc. Really immerse yourself in this visualization, and you will find the jitters much less the day of your presentation, since you’ve “done it before.”
Most top corporate keynote speakers have the bulk of their talks completely scripted out well in advance. The best ones make it seem as if they are coming up with things right off the top of their heads, but the truth is different. Even most of the jokes are prepped in advance!
Once the script is written, these pros rehearse the presentation over and over until they have it cold. If you notice, very few speakers read straight from written notes anymore. They might have a screen with a few prompts, but for the most part they commit things to memory for a smooth performance.
You should do the same for your next presentation. Write the script out completely and say it out loud daily. Time yourself so you can trim some parts if needed. Practice in front of a mirror and record yourself on your phone so you can play it back and adjust trouble spots.
Familiarize yourself with the space as much as possible beforehand
You might have the idea that corporate keynote speakers are whisked straight from the airport to a full auditorium just in time for them to be announced to the crowd and deliver an awe-inspiring speech, like in the movies. No way!
A pro will scope out the space where he or she will be delivering the speech and usually have a soundcheck or even a full run through well before the audience arrives. This helps them get used to unfamiliar surroundings and therefore be more relaxed when delivering the presentation.
Salespeople might not get the chance to arrive before the presentation is slated to be delivered, and this can be disorienting for some. In this case, just notice things about the room so you “ground” yourself a bit. Things like looking at each corner so you get a sense of the size of the space, noticing the art or other objects placed around, what people are wearing, etc. can reduce that feeling of being overwhelmed.
Likewise, going around and introducing yourself to a few people while they make their way in can also ease the nerves. A little chitchat can break the ice and cause them to pay more attention to you when you start. It also helps to find those familiar and likely friendly faces during your speech to bolster confidence.
Feeling nervous before a presentation is natural – but you can be proactive and learn to relax by using the above tips from pro corporate keynote speakers!