Today's guest post is from Kevin Milsap. Kevin is a small business owner obsessed with the small details.
The advice was to picture the audience in their underwear. However, in the days leading up to your presentation you dreamt the audience took pictures while you gave a presentation in your underwear. Be confident! Better ways to stay calm and avoid distractions exist. So put your clothes on and think about the habits you can use—or lose—to improve your stage presence and keep the audience focused. When you stay focused, the audience will too.
Engaging the Audience
When you begin a presentation with a bold statement, humor or a question, the audience almost always tunes in immediately, and you have started on the right foot. Losing the audience after delivering an attention-grabbing beginning can happen because of distracting devices like a smart phone beckoning for their attention. Always be checking in with the audience. When the audience begins losing focus on your presentation, take action by directing their attention back to your message through clever use of silence, hand gestures, change your pacing or an interesting personal story that goes along with your speech.
Smart Phones in the Audience
Audience members with cell phones can distract and disrupt a presentation in several ways. Ringing phones annoy everyone, and the audience member who answers a ringing phone can ruin your presentation. Accidents do happen, and people forget to silence their phones so the best thing to do is pause while the embarrassed audience member scrambles to turn their phone off. However, on the rare occasion when an audience member answers the call during your presentation, it's beyond distracting for you and your audience. To keep the focus on your presentation, simplyspeakinginc.com suggests using humor. This trick of comedians not only keeps your presentation on track, but also stops others from being tempted to use their phones for the rest of the speech. You can stop and ask, “Is that for me?” Then quietly wait until the audience member ends the call or the person leaves the room.
A cell phone at a presentation should be used as a video recorder to record the speaker for future reference. Live tweeting a presentation can be a great gauge of audience engagement. Just be sure to silence the ringer.
Stand Tall and Text
Smart phones may also cause another problem. Studies show that speakers who spend a lot of time on their cell phones give weaker speeches than those who use a laptop or desktop computer. When you spend a lot of time emailing, texting and Web surfing on your smartphone, your posture becomes hunched and defensive. This posture goes on stage with you and the audience will not respond well.
When you use a laptop or desktop computer for email and Web surfing, you sit with an open posture, which works to draw the attention of audience members. To shake the bad habit of going on stage with the cell phone posture, practice texting in an upright position with your head held high and your arms out. This may feel awkward or silly, but you will find your audience hanging on your every word.
The Better Side of Smart Phones
Fortunately cell phones aren't all bad! When used correctly, smartphones can improve your presentations. For example, the iPhone 5c comes with helpful tools to build your confidence. HD video capabilities make it possible to record your entire presentation before the event for practice. You can watch the video for weak points and to make sure your posture is open and welcoming.
You can also use your phone to get the word out about your speech. Tweet updates or promote your presentation on Facebook and Linkedin.
You can use your phone to record your presentation, by audio or voice recording. Audio recording lets you listen to how you emote during the speech. You can listen to hear if your voice was loud enough to reach the back row and catch any parts of your presentation that need to be changed.
The cell phone can distract, but it can also improve your overall stage presence.