Speaking to a group of friends is one thing. Being the main focus at an event, such as an art reception, is another thing all together. It’s completely normal to be afraid of speaking in public. After all, a room full of strangers are there to see and learn from you. Here are five ways you can become more comfortable when speaking in public.
1. Expect there to be questions. While preparing your talk, try to anticipate a handful of questions and come up with honest answers prior to presenting. If someone asks a question you do not know, it is alright to tell them that you don't know the answer and will get back to them. You can even ask if someone in the audience can answer the question.
2. Use your body to create confidence. Just prior to stepping out in front of the crowd, stand with you legs apart, your hands on your hips, and your head held high. Tell yourself that you know your "stuff". This posture has been proving to instill confidence in people. It works. Try it!
3. Tell Stories. We all have stories that we can tell that are either about ourselves or another person and that we can use as examples to prove a point. People relate to stories because they are told from a personal perspective.
4. Be Yourself/Human. Act like you are talking with a friend. Another words, everyone in the crowd is your friends and is there because they want to hear what you have to say. This means using everyday language. What a relief, now you don't have to memorize all of the chemicals used for ingredients in your art media.
5. Know that no one is judging you. Truth be told, the people in the crowd are more interested in themselves than you. They are self-interested and are not hanging on to your every word. What they are really doing is picking up a few things here and there that are most important to them. Whew, well this is a relief to know.
When you next find yourself on "stage" keep these practices at the forefront of your mind and you will deliver a talk with much more confidence. As an art career coach, I find myself helping clients prepare for art demonstrations, lectures, art festivals and receptions. We use these five practices in addition to others and they find they have great success.