Pitching and presenting successfully involves using a blend of techniques, including applied improvisation and learning practical ways to improve your confidence. Here are a few valuable tips to help you be pitch perfect:
Tip #1: Don’t rush into speaking
Make sure you are well-positioned and standing (or sitting) still before speaking. It’s easy to start speaking before you are stationary and if you do this you might be tempted to rush, making it difficult for the audience to concentrate on you. To avoid doing this, draw in a deep breath once you have stopped moving before speaking. This conscious control will also make you feel more confident.
Tip #2: Use your body language to your advantage
We all have nervous habits we employ when we’re in stressful public situations. For example, many people will play with their hair or with their hands, put their hands in their pockets, or sway. These habits can be distracting for the audience and draw attention away from your speech. In addition, they can have other negative effects such as causing you to mumble or avoid eye contact.
Try becoming aware to your habits by mimicking how you act in your most nervous moments in front of a mirror. Then, when you have a public presentation, rather than just learning the content of your speech, schedule some time practising minimising these habits. You don’t need to eliminate these habits completely – they are comforting as well – but making yourself aware of them can improve your control over them. Often, by just minimising a few of these habits, you can become more compelling and confident.
Tip #3: Acknowledge questions in the right way
Formal situations like presentations and interviews will often involve answering questions from the audience. This can be stressful if the question is not something that you’ve prepared for. Even so, the way you deal with the question can affect the impression you make on your audience whether or not you have a prepared answer.
Don’t give simple answers such as ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or ‘I don’t know’ which don’t engage the person who asked the question. Take a moment to think of the question and explain why you agree or disagree. If your ideas are challenged by the question, make sure not to be too dismissive as this can come across as impolite. If you tend to find that you’re dismissive, then start with ‘What I like about your question…’ which will ensure you acknowledge their idea before starting with your own. In this way, you’ll also demonstrate you’re willing to think from different perspectives and show you can react spontaneously.