Keeping cool before the ‘big one’
It’s natural, given most everyone’s disdain for public speaking, to have a bit of apprehension before a presentation. And I know from my recent research about presenting online that many are even less prepared for webinars.
Here are a few easy-but-effective things to do.
Hydrate. It’s not just a good idea, it’s good for you, too. It’ll help your vocal chords and your brain, both. I drink a half-gallon of water about two hours before presenting, and then have ample water within reach during the presentation itself. One good thing about webinars – nobody sees you mute the line and take a sip.
Breathe. Hey, oxygen is a good idea, too. Breathe a few slow, deeply diaphragmatic breaths. Not only is it calming, but will help counter one other thing that happens with tension – our breathing gets shallow and our voice quality is less resonant.
Stretch. You don’t have to dig out Yoga For Dummies, but take a moment to feel the balance between tension and release, especially in your head and neck. Loll your head around.
Vocalize. If you ever took a singing lesson, dig up one of those exercises from one of the nether regions of your memory and put it to use. Even if you don’t have a favorite vocal warmup, try saying ‘ooooh’ from the top of your vocal register to the bottom and back. Notice where your resonance is strongest.
Envision. Some of you don’t like this part, but give it a try. You’re not going to have an audience in front of you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feed off their energy. Imagine your audience responding positively, raising a hand in response to your question, chuckling when you make an amusing remark. They ARE doing those things… you’ve just got to own it.
Plan to set the tone early. Don’t let your audience assume they can put you on speakerphone like they do all those OTHER boring webinar speakers. Figure out how you’re going to let them know you’re live, you’re real, and you’re going talk with them, not at them.